eSports and Collegiate Gaming

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.”

Esports-ColumbiaCollege-GameHut

The Columbia College Game Hut

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.

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3 comments

  1. I agree about the skepticism you feel about calling this a real ‘sport,’ but the facts of the matter is, the proof is in the pudding. Billionaire NBA owner Mark Cuban recently invested several million dollars into a Mavericks gaming team, while the NBA just hedged a massive bet by funding their very own 2K league. Not to mention, Ninja has the most interacted with social media profiles, more interactions than Ronaldo, LeBron, Steph Curry, any athlete, you can argue, Ninja is currently bigger than. The breadth of sport is expanding rapidly, and, like pro athletes, they put their time and energy into being great at the sport, and it’s their job and legacy.

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  2. $tick

    As Zabs mentions, the market is there for eSports and there’s obviously a very large demand. I think what it all boils down to is what you determine a sport to be. I think the real answer to this question is who cares? Esports will always be a thing and likely will always have a massive audience. It doesn’t need to be classed as a “real sport” to be successful and there doesn’t seem to be any reason that determining it’s identity as a real sport will change that for better or worse. The college part is interesting but I think it acts in the same fashion as a Division 1 college athletic program by creating an environment that gives these players the best opportunity to go pro if that is ultimately the goal of the student. It puts them on a platform that is way more visible than simply having a stream from home.

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  3. quinn797

    Hi nathan34, thanks for sharing your insightful comments!
    I too wondered about the question of whether online gaming should be classified as a sport. I realize that since the beginning of games, board games like chess, for example, are already considered as sports. Games and sports share many fundamental similarities if you think about it systematic-wise — 1. They operate under a set of specific rules and mechanics. 2. They are separated from ordinary life. 3. They are situated within a certain space and time. 4. They are made possible by interactivity. 5. They have to involve certain kind of conflicts. (Here I am taking ideas from Johann Huizinga’s, Roger Caillois’s, Chris Crawford’s, and Juul Jesper’s study about play and games). Hence, I would not be surprised that online gaming is now classified as eSport. By calling online gaming a sport, I believe the gaming industry has pushed the boundaries of what defines the term “sport”, which is good for an ever-changing social context.

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