What is new in esports for November 2019?
Call of Duty Mobile Game Breaks Records with 100 Million Downloads in First Week
Philadelphia Fusion Breaks Ground on $50 Million Esports Complex
Competitive Gaming to Take Market Share from Streaming Services
America’s Largest Mall Operator Invests $5 Million in Esports
And these are just a few of the biggest esports headlines trending today and colleges are taking notice. In fact, hundreds of colleges across the U.S. have so much faith in the growth of esports that they too are investing in the sport by establishing formal programs with scholarship opportunities for players as well as degree programs such as esports management, esports business and esports entrepreneurship and management. These schools have spent hundreds of thousands (to millions) on facilities and equipment, and even more on building housing designed specifically for their esports payers.
Today we would like to tell you about eight schools of these schools, beginning with West Virginia State University. Here you go.
Esports Program Launches
West Virginia State University, Institute, West Virginia
West Virginia State University (WVSU) has announced plans to launch an esports program as early as next Fall. In a MetroNews report, WVSU President Anthony Jenkins said, “there are institutions across the nation that have developed esports programs and we are developing one right here at West Virginia State University.” In his State of the University speech just weeks ago, Jenkins outlined plans for the program stating that it would be housed in the Office of Student Affairs as a club sport, but would receive guidance from the school’s athletic department.
“Let’s ride this wave, be out in front and not get swallowed up by it,” Jenkins said of getting involved in esports. “If we are not proactive in this space, we’re going to be losing students who are going to be recruited to other institutions outside of this space because they are wizards and geniuses at Esports.”
Games have yet to be announced, but in talking to nearby Concord University about what to expect, Jenkins learned that the school has three rosters in its esports program: Call of Duty, League of Legends and Overwatch. Jenkins, who sits on the NCAA Presidents Division II Council, said he’s not ready to say just yet which games WVSU plans to play, but students have “thrown” him a couple of examples and “they are excited about it,” he said.
Austin College, Sherman, Texas
The federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has announced that it has awarded $50,000 to the Pottsboro, Texas Public Library. Thanks to the generous award, the library, along with nearby Austin College and Pottsboro High School, can move forward with the launch of a scholastic esports program. According to IMLS, the goal of the grant was to connect learning and play, and build digital literacy and critical-thinking skills. “Gamers also will get the chance to learn strategies, compete in Rocket League and Overwatch and learn the technology used in competitions. And the potentially biggest win-win: Austin College students will help to mentor high school students.”
The IMLS program, Accelerating Promising Practices for Small Libraries, “also means a serious upgrade to the library’s infrastructure,” reports University Business (UB), “including a significant internet boost as well as new gaming computers and headsets.”
Austin College is already home to an Esports club team that competes in League of Legends, Overwatch, Rocket League, and Smash Bros Brawl Ultimate. In addition to competition, the Austin College Esports provides experiential learning through program leadership roles. “The creation and production of videos, all of which are preparation for careers as writers, video editors, analysts, coaches, broadcasters, and more, is a valuable learning experience,” says the school.
Saint Joseph’s College of Maine, Standish, Maine
Saint Joseph’s College of Maine has added esports as a club program. The new program is expected to attract competitive PC gamers who will compete in games such as Hearthstone, League of Legends, Overwatch, Fortnite, Apex Legends, FIFA, Madden, and NBA2K. The program is also seeking competitive console gamers on PlayStation and Xbox.
According to a Saint Joseph’s Athletics press release, the program, which launched in the Fall, “will be based out of the newly configured Monks Esports Lounge, which is a dedicated 24/7 space for the team and an aspect of the broader Heffernan Lounge remodel that allows for expanded space for the departments of Student Engagement & Residential Living.”
The Monks Esports Lounge is equipped with six PC's - spec'd out with the latest in the competitive gaming market – gaming chairs and tables, and PlayStation and Xbox stations with dedicated televisions and seating. Saint Joseph’s College Esports plans to join the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) and compete in many other game-specific leagues, which will be determined based on student interest.
College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia
The College of William & Mary has announced that it is in the early stages of planning a new esports program that will give students the opportunity to play video games competitively as representatives of the school. In a Williamsburg Yorktown Daily (WYDaily) report, Senior Creative Producer of Academic Innovation with the School of Business Terry Trojak said they’ve “been aware students at William & Mary have been playing competitively for years. As the school continuously looks for new ways to form communities for students on campus, it seemed like something they should look into.”
In addition to giving student-gamers the opportunity to play competitively at the collegiate level, participation in the esports program will provide experience in coaching, broadcasting, event management, team management, and social marketing.
While the program is in the works, gamers can participate in the Competitive Gaming Club (CGC) at College of William & Mary. Founded in 2013, the clubs mission is “to be proud and to embrace what it means to be a Gamer.”
New Esports Facilities and Degree Programs
University of Alaska, Anchorage, Alaska
University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) has unveiled Alaska's first dedicated space for esports gaming. The UAA Esports Lounge features 18 PCs, two console stations, and a tabletop gaming area for anyone interested in gaming. PC Games include Apex Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2, Fortnite, Hearthstone, League of Legends, Minecraft, Overwatch, Rocket League, Smite, and Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege. Console games range from Mario Kart 8 Deluxe to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and PlayStation games include Beat Saber, Everybody's Golf VR, The Playroom VR, and Rocket League.
Xbox One X games include Rocket League and Tom Clancy’s The Division 2. The UAA Esports Lounge is sponsored by the Alaska Army National Guard and Resource Data.
The UAA Esports Club has one team that competes at the collegiate level in League of Legends. The school is actively recruiting current college students for future teams and other games such as Overwatch, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, StarCraft 2, WoW, CS:GO, DOTA 2 and more. UAA Esports is a recognized University League of Legends (uLoL) club and it has a Tespa chapter.
Lawrence Technological University, Southfield, Michigan
Lawrence Technological University (LTU) has a new esports arena! Co-developed by LTU and Yellow Flag Productions (a Southfield-based media company), the new LTU Esports Arena is a former meeting room that has been transformed into a high-tech haven for gamers outfitted with 12 custom-built gaming computers with 4K monitors, a coach’s station, and a 4K big-screen TV for spectators to watch—and for players to go over game film after a competition. The equipment also includes special video gaming chairs and high-end headsets.
LTU says that for the 2018-19 school year, an official LTU student organization, LTU Esports, was chartered, with faculty advisor Marshall Ashton, Director of LTU’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in Game Art program. LTU CIO Tim Chavis said, “the university’s policy of providing students with high-end laptops makes it easier for LTU to host esports tournaments. Other schools might have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on laptops for participants, but here, we just pull them off the shelf.”
Southern Arkansas University, Magnolia, Arkansas
Southern Arkansas University (SAU) has 13 esports teams with around 100 members, making it one of the largest university-level esports programs in Arkansas. Now, the growing program has added a new gaming lab called The Gaming Hub, which features 18 Alienware computers, along with PlayStation and X-Box consoles. Located on the second floor of SAU’s Reynolds Center, The Gaming Hub has certain hours dedicated to team practice, but it is open to all students. The school also has a smaller gaming lab in SAU’s Honors Hall.
SAU Esports has teams competing in League of Legends, Overwatch, Fortnite, Rocket League, Call of Duty, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), Rainbow Six Siege, StarCraft, Super Smash Bros., Injustice 2, Madden NFL, Magic: The Gathering, and NBA 2K. A Dungeons & Dragons community has also formed on campus, and the program expects to add more games in the near future.
University of New Haven, West Haven, Connecticut
The University of New Haven has announced that it plans to launch a first-of-its-kind academic program in esports along with a 2,500-square-foot esports training and competition center for intercollegiate and intramural competition. According to University News, the planned esports competition and training center is a centerpiece of the University’s $35 million Bergami Center for Science, Technology, and Innovation, scheduled to open in Spring 2020.
The Esports Center will host esports competitions that enable students to gain hands-on technical and operational experience. The space will also engage students through the University’s esports club, which has more than 200 members.
University of New Haven’s comprehensive academic curriculum in Esports Management “will be the first of its kind to be part of a business curriculum accredited by AACSB International, an accreditation that places the University’s College of Business among the top five percent of business schools worldwide.”
“The introduction of the University’s esports curriculum will begin with the launch of a concentration in Esports Management as part of the University’s bachelor’s degree in Business Management. The new concentration will begin enrolling students for the fall of 2020.”
The University also plans to create an interdisciplinary undergraduate program in esports and a companion master’s program in esports and technology, “the first such graduate program in the U.S.,” says the school.
“In addition to creating an esports curriculum that includes courses in entrepreneurship and the business of esports, the University will look to develop interdisciplinary classes focusing on gambling in esports (Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences), gaming disorders (School of Health Sciences), broadcasting and graphic design (College of Arts and Sciences), and video game development (Tagliatela College of Engineering), among others. The programs will incorporate expertise from across the University.