New gaming program in Aiken giving players a chance to compete

Published: Sep. 23, 2021 at 7:19 PM EDT
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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - Video games have they’ve come a long way since playing Pac-Man at the arcade. Now esports is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world, giving gamers the chance to play competitively. We’re looking at how the sport is taking off right here at home.

For Zach Mereau, gaming has been a huge part of life since he was 5 years old.

“Mom for my fifth birthday bought me a Game Boy, the rectangular one made back in like the late ‘90s. My entire life has pretty much been all about video games since then,” he said.

As games have evolved through the years, so has Mereau’s involvement in them. What started as a childhood hobby became a competitive passion at age 17.

“We got to a point where we were watching these tournaments and these high-level players and we were like you know what, I think we could do that,” he said.

Mereau started competing in tournaments in New Jersey and found a gaming community when he moved down to Georgia a few years back.

“It’s just another way for me to express myself and it’s been one of my favorite and most coveted hobbies,” he said.

Across the river, the Aiken Parks and Recreation Department has teamed up with GG Leagues to bring competitive gaming to the Palmetto State.

“It was something we just started looking into as a new opportunity for us to get involved with the community. Having something for kids who don’t like to play sports or can’t play sports,” said Bret Howell, athletic supervisor, Aiken Parks and Rec.

People ages eight and up can register to play competitive Smash Bros, Madden, Rocket League, and Fortnite against players from all over the country.

“People are finally seeing the inherent value of competitive gaming and what it can bring not only to businesses but also general communities,” he said.

Registration for the Aiken League has closed for the fall but they’re planning on doing more in the winter. Mereau also hosts his own tournaments.

If you’re interested in getting involved, visit the CSRA FGC’s social media pages:

Facebook: @CSRAFGC, Twitter: @csra_fgc, Instagram: @csra.fgc, YouTube: CSRA FGC, or email them directly at

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