By Anthony Degrado
Esports, the competition aspect of video games, over the past years have been rapidly growing. Along with that growth comes a new branch of collegiate sports. Many universities have decided to show their support and start school affiliated esports programs
Gaming in the past has been stigmatized to be for lazy people, or nerds, but with social media nowadays gaming has been normalized by celebrities and athletes. This brings a whole new route for players to get to college and showcase their own talents. Now gaming is looked at as a way to socialize with peers in a different way than the past and also allows to meet people from various parts of the world.
Competitive gaming has been around for over a decade but within recent years there has been major steps made for it to turn into franchises. Although gaming is not like traditional sports, the competitive gaming side is being pushed to be like those traditional sports.
New to Grand Rapids Community College is a new club called Raider Gaming. Raider Gaming has been created by students on campus who appreciate the gaming industry.
Terrance Moore, 21, of Chicago, and the creator of Raider Gaming and a GRCC student said, “We intend to create a safe space on campus for any student who perhaps needs a break from the everyday grind of our college careers.”
GRCC is not the only local school to do so. Nearby, Aquinas College has an esports program that includes games such as “Overwatch”, “League of Legends”, and “Rocket League”. Davenport University and Central Michigan University are also two Michigan Universities to add esports programs with the first season beginning in 2019-2020. With the addition of a new program such as esports, these universities will begin to build gaming labs which will act as the practice center for these players and also where they will compete.
Michigan State is another respected university with an esports program, and with that being said the League of Legends team has been exceeding expectations ever since the launch of the program. The initial roster debuted in 2015, and in March 2019, Michigan State won the Big Ten Network Easter Conference.
Along with collegiate esports comes esport arenas. One in particular is Western Michigan University, which was completed in October of 2018. The 190 seat auditorium is used for intercollegiate and intramural play for students. If interested in esports scholarships, going to tournaments is a great way to get your name out there, as well is sending in applications to esports colleges. Collegiate esports is still fairly new, and the majority of teams are club teams representing the school but along with WMU comes many universities that do represent Collegiate esports teams.
League of Legends, which is an animated computer game, with teams of five and has teams around the world. It is one of the many games universities have teams for. The League of Legends Champion Series (LCS) began in 2013 with only eight teams and now have advanced into a 10 team league. These teams all compete in California for the world championship, while some other events are hosted around the world.
Another example of a game going the route of franchising, similar to the route of League of Legends, is Call of Duty. Call of Duty is a well known shooter game played on console, either Xbox or Playstation. This game consists of teams of five as well, and in 2020 the Call of Duty League (CDL) will begin with 12 teams. These teams represent 11 different areas such as Chicago, Dallas, Seattle, Florida, Minnesota, Paris, London, Toronto, New York, Atlanta, and two teams in Los Angeles. There will be coaches, a roster, analysts, and salaries for the players just like those of traditional sports. Everything represented in the 2020 CDL will be looking towards the future of esports and gaming overall.
Currently Raider Gaming does not have a set schedule in place but are looking for a biweekly meeting time on Fridays.