Written by guest blogger Kevin Chen

I studied video games in Metz… wait a second. Since when did the words “study” and “video games” ever go together? Something sounds wrong. But here at Georgia Tech-Lorraine, I was able to break this rule.

As part of HTS 2100, I studied the growth of eSports, the competitive aspect of the video game industry. On March 23, I got the dream opportunity of meeting one of the eSports leaders in Europe, Thomas Willaume. Willaume is the founder and CEO of Helios Gaming, the largest video game tournament ladder in the Grand Est, or “Great East,” region of France. Willaume describes Helios Gaming as a “video game ecosystem,” in which all types of players and teams gather to share their love of video games.

Our meeting with Willaume occurred at a startup incubator named TCRM-Blida in Metz. During our meeting, I was able to sneak in a stellar photo of me, one of my classmates Akib bin Nizam, and of course, the tall and handsome Thomas Willaume.

After the meeting, our hosts at TCRM-Blida invited the class to an Indie Game festival that evening. I was hesitant to accept this invitation. I did not know what to expect – I have never attended any video game event. Despite my uncertainty, I decided to give it a shot. I promised myself I wouldn’t stay long…an hour at most.

That evening, I was amazed by how energetic the event was. It felt like a disco, with dark yet colorful lights. A crowd of roughly 400 people gathered, eagerly sharing their affinity for video games.

My Georgia Tech friends and I played nearly every video game that was offered. The video game that stuck with me the most was a fast-paced time management game, somewhat similar to Overcooked.

The one hour that I promised to spend slowly became 2, then 2.5, and then 3 before my friends and I finally left.

When people say that studying abroad is a new experience, they cannot be more correct. For me, this came in the form of a new video game experience! Never before have I experienced playing video games outside of a home environment on this scale. Maybe one day I’ll be a professional video game player, battling dragons and opponents to take down the enemy nexus while a lively crowd cheers behind me.