Atlanta (CNN Business)Competitive video game playing, also known as esports, is now a high school varsity sport in eight states.
It began with Connecticut, Georgia, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island in the fall of 2018. A few months later, the National Federation of State High School Associations said Alabama, Mississippi and Texas Charter schools have joined the mix.
CNN was recently invited to see to a competition in Georgia between North Atlanta High School and Grady High School, also in Atlanta, at the city's newest esports arena. The venue opened in February as part of the Johnson STEM Activity Center.
The global esports market is expected to generate more than $1 billion in 2019, according to research firm Newzoo. It also estimates the esports audience will reach 454 million this year.
Two teams of students with six players each faced off in a video game game called "Smite," one of the three high-school-sanctioned esport games, in which they battle each other as gods and other mythological characters.
According to Brian Prokes, the center's executive director, the facility's goal is to level the playing field and give anybody an opportunity to compete.
"If there are two schools that don't have the facilities to host a five-on-five tournament, we are here for them," he said.
The regular esports season runs through the end of April, with playoffs and finals starting in May.