Arkansas State University students might want to break out their video game consoles: ASU is getting into eSports.
The university announced that, starting in fall 2019, there will be a competitive gaming club at A-State. Initially, the eSports team will be a competition club sport, similar to the univeristy’s rugby and softball club teams.
“Student interest in competitive gaming is growing nationwide, and naturally, these Red Wolves want to represent Arkansas State,” Damphousse said.
ESports can be roughly defined competitive multiplayer video-gaming. There are leagues and organizations around the world dedicated to eSports, and it has already become a booming business. More colleges are offering eSports as varsity sports, and there are professional circuits.
There is a collegiate governing body for eSports. The National Association of Collegiate ESports (NACE) is the main governing body and has provided $9 million in eSports scholarships since 2016, according to the Washington Post.
Certain games lend themselves better to eSports than others. Sports games and first-person shooters like Call of Duty tend to predominate the leagues. Currently, ASU is determining which games to focus on, according to Damphousse.
“We involved current A-State students in our early planning discussions to get their input on the games and league decisions. We are excited to get the word out to prospective students as well that we are committing to supporting an eSports team,” Damphousse said. “As we work through this first season, I can imagine fielding a varsity team for competition soon, which would include scholarships.”
ASU is also seeking membership with NACE for the fall. The university is also considering joining the College Championship for League of Leagues, hosted by Riot Games.
Matt Huckaby, executive director of club sports, will be overseeing the eSports program while it is in the club stage.