What is new in Esports for September 2019?
|Bismarck State College||Bismarck||North Dakota|
|Bryant & Stratton College||Multiple||Multiple|
|Davenport University||Grand Rapids||Michigan|
|Dickinson State University||Dickinson||North Dakota|
The fall semester is finally here with a number of schools set to launch their very own esports programs. Others have opened brand new state-of-the-art arenas or game spaces in response to the explosive growth of intercollegiate esports. We are pleased to announce that the following schools have entered the esports game: Bismarck State College, Bryant and Stratton College, Concordia University, Davenport University, Dickinson State University, Iowa State University, Shenandoah University, and University of Wisconsin.
Esports Program Launches
Bismarck State College, Bismarck, North Dakota
Bismarck State College (BSC) has announced the launch of a new esports program that is actively recruiting gamers to fill the 2019-2020 roster with fifty $1,000 scholarships available to players. Student players will be chosen for the team based on their rank and score history in four games including Overwatch, League of Legends, Heatherstone, and Fortnite. The Bismarck State College Mystics will compete against teams from Minnesota State University Moorhead, University of Jamestown, and Dickinson State University as well as other NJCAA schools across the country.
In a Bismarck State College press release, Athletic Director Buster Gillis said, “gaming is mainstream and implementing a team on campus allows us to bring those who may not always become involved in a sport or campus organization together.”
“Esports is a means for BSC to attract students, celebrate a diversity of interests on our campus, and invest money to benefit even more of our student body,” he said. It also gives students access to a “unique technology environment” and “complements a number of academic programs on campus.”
Players have a range of academic programs to choose from, including four-year degrees offered in conjunction with other North Dakota University system institutions. Esports at Bismarck complements Coaching (Athletic), Cybersecurity & Computer Networks, Digital Audio Production, Electronics Technology, Engineering Technology, Graphic Design and Communication, Mass Communication, Management (Technical), and Web Development and Design.
Bismarck State College is a member of the newly formed National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), the governing body for junior college esports. The NJCAA recently partnered with the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) to advance esports.
Bryant & Stratton College, New York, Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin
Bryant & Stratton College making it the first college in Wisconsin to launch an esports program through NACE and the sixth college in Virginia to do so. The programs begin this fall and each roster will include 15 to 25 students, many on esports scholarships. Players on co-ed teams will compete in League of Legends, Overwatch, and Rocket League.
The Bobcats will have access to newly constructed facilities such as a 500-square foot esports Lab at the Virginia campus, which the school describes as “futuristic-looking digs” featuring “blue accent lights, dimmable LED lighting, 15 high-end gaming stations outfitted with Lenovo gaming PCs and comfortable gaming chairs.” Larger high definition screens will be used for game review during training. Students will follow a training schedule and improve their skills until they are ready to compete on the varsity level.
Student gamers will have access to a variety of academic programs at various levels including diplomas, associate degrees, and bachelor’s degrees. Areas of study include business, technology, criminal justice studies, legal and human services, healthcare, and hospitality. While student gamers come from all areas, some gravitate towards design and technology. Bryant & Stratton offers an AAS in Networking Technology, a Diploma in Information Technology, and an AAS in Graphic Design.
Davenport University, Grand Rapids, Michigan
The new esports program at Davenport University (DU) is set to begin competing this fall, making it the second university in Michigan to offer esports as part of its athletic program. Student players will have the opportunity to pursue their passion for gaming while earning a degree in a number of leading academic programs including business, technology, and health. Popular options for gamers include Davenport University’s BS in Computer Science with a Specialization in Gaming and Simulation, the BS in Computer Information Systems with a Web and Mobile Development Specialization, and the BBA in Sport Management. The BBA is accredited by the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation and it is the only accredited BBA in Sport Management in the state of Michigan.
The Davenport University DuPanthers have hired a new head coach and it is unclear which teams the program plans to field. Popular games for esports include Fortnite, League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Call of Duty, Hearthstone and Overwatch.
Dickinson State University, Dickinson, North Dakota
Dickinson State University (DSU) has launched an esports program that begins competing this fall. Players at the varsity level will be divided into teams based on the online game they play competitively. So far, players are set to compete in four games including Fortnite, Apex Legends, Rainbow Six Siege, and Rocket League. Teams were selected by DSU Esports Coordinator Josh Nichols based on the number of students who were interested in each game, as determined by a survey and recruitment form on the recently created Bluehawkesports.com website.
According to the Dickinson Press, “DSU's esports varsity teams will compete with other colleges statewide and nationwide and will host their players on Twitch, a streaming site for gamers.” While the program doesn’t have a broadcasting studio just yet, the esports lab features state-of-the-art gaming equipment with webcams. Two portable green screens are available for use and players will likely have the opportunity to “stream on their own accounts and link those from the website,” Nichols said. So if spectators have a favorite player or they would like to look at their perspective, they could join the players’ specific channel.
While esports players come from a variety of majors, some of the most popular programs for gamers at DSU are expected to include the BS in Computer Science, Computer Technology Management, and Information Analytics, the Minor in Mathematics or Computer Science, and the Certificates in Computer Programming or Web Management.
New Esports Facilities and Game Spaces
Concordia University, Austin, Texas
Concordia University has opened the very first varsity esports arena in Central Texas. The arena houses the school’s first class of esports athletes (2019), which the school says is also the first varsity esports team in Central Texas. In its first year, the program expects 25 students, mostly from Texas, to play for the university and qualified students will receive a combination of merit-based and esports scholarships.
The new esports arena features 12 professional-level gaming stations and audio-visual production equipment, including production technology that allows the school’s esports team to live stream from any of the stations. The team will train for and play a handful of video games, including the popular League of Legends, Rocket League, Overwatch, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.
Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa
Construction for a student gaming center at Iowa State University is underway. According to the Iowa State Daily, the school says that two seniors in industrial design and other students have been recruited by Iowa State Recreational Services to design a “recreational gaming space,” furnished with gaming PCs, consoles, and board games. “The project accompanies the recent establishment of establishment of an esports intramural and the expansion of a local gaming tournament, all of which signal a larger shift towards the incorporation of esports at Iowa State.”
The new gaming space will replace two squash ball courts at the school and it will be completed as early as fall 2020. According to student designer Ryan Helfers, just three large universities—Utah, UC Irvine and Miami University—have gaming facilities as “robust” as what the design team envisions for Iowa State.
"Every single facility that we’ve looked at has essentially been a computer lab with gaming computers,” Helfers said. “This is not the first esports space on a campus, but this is going to be the first of its kind.” Per the Daily, virtual models of the space show a unique two-floor design with TVs and monitors for console and PC gamers lining the walls of the lower floor. “A checkout desk to the right of the entrance allows players to choose the games or accessories they want to use.”
On the upper level, “beanbag chairs and couches sit opposite two arcade cabinets and shelves of board and card games” and “across from a balcony overlooking the lower floor, a projector screen streams live game feeds to onlookers.” the ISU Cyclones compete in Rocket League.
Shenandoah University, Winchester, Virginia
Shenandoah University (SU) has opened a new state-of-the-art esports arena that will accommodate the school’s esports program, the sport’s growing demand in the region, and the upcoming launch into Virginia Public High Schools. The arena will also provide hands-on experiences in management, media and communications for students in the school’s suite of esports programs including the BS in Esports with an Esports Management Track, the Esports Management Minor and the Esports Media and Communication Track within the BS program. A minor and a certificate in Esports Performance Studies are also available. Shenandoah University is the first university in the country to offer a multi-track esports major.
According to an SU press release, the new 1,571-square-foot space is located in an unused armory on the school’s main campus. It will feature 12 competitor stations, a 21-inch stage, 70 spectator seats, a broadcasting booth, and three 12-foot projector screens on three walls. The arena will be mobile, so equipment can be packed up and taken on the road for matches and events off campus. Shenandoah is partnering with Logitech International to supply some of the equipment.
Shenandoah esports players compete in Rocket League, League of Legends, SMITE, and Overwatch.
University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
The University of Washington (UW) recently celebrated the opening of the HUB Esports Arena & Gaming Lounge. Housed in the Husky Union Building (HUB), the 1,000 square-foot, full-service gaming center features top-of-the-line computing power and premium gaming features, along with a designated place for the gaming community on the UW campus. The space, which features 40 gaming computers, supports both casual and competitive gaming and virtual reality.
At the time of opening, UW was the largest public, higher education institution in the nation and the first university in the state of Washington to launch a dedicated esports arena. The school hosts gaming expos, clubs, and other events for the school's growing gaming community.