I just read a pretty interesting article about the recent development of competitive collegiate gaming, or eSports. Click here to read it. The article talks about the rise of eSports and how there are more than 70 colleges that now offer scholarships for those participating in varsity eSports teams. From reading the article, it seems like a major benefit of eSports is that gaming arenas are both cheap to design and implement, and don’t necessarily have to take up lots of space. Additionally, the equipment for eSports themselves are pretty basic. “Besides a really good internet connection, the essentials are basically the computer hardware, the keyboards and mice, and the chairs.”
For example, the Columbia College Game Hut was converted from the old soccer team locker room into what it is today. Unlike other forms of recreation paid for by colleges, the Game Hut was relatively inexpensive to complete, costing in the tens of thousands of dollars. Similarly, the eSports Gaming Center at DePaul University converted from an infrequently used room in the student center for faculty collaboration.
If it is accepted that these are relatively inexpensive ways to encourage college students to come together over something they’re passionate about, the question becomes why shouldn’t all colleges buy in to the eSports craze? Well, for one, there are pushbacks about the ability to call online gaming a sport, as well as about colleges promoting an activity that has a history of sexism and can lead to addiction. For instance, former University of Arizona president Ann Weaver Hart turned down a bid to include eSports in the Pac-12 Conference. While video games are big business and college students like to play video games, Hart argues that these reasons by themselves don’t merit the inclusion of varsity college video game teams.
While reading this article, I was especially interested what people in our class would say about eSports. I myself am probably more skeptical about it and would be less inclined to see playing video games as a sport. But I also understand arguments that could be made against this view, and it seems like many people in this class may have different opinions. Even though I may be against the idea overall, I think this idea of including video games at the college level is super interesting. It is cool to see that colleges and universities are willing to listen to students about what their interests are and what types of changes they would like to see in their college experience.