The Future of Campus Tech: Esports
One of the newest and fastest growing trends currently in higher education is esports. Sports of all kinds have come to college: Quidditch, horseshoes, even cornhole! Now, as technology advances, we see the rise of a new kind of sport. The online one.
The term “esports” describes competitive video gaming, often teambased and multiplayer. Originally kicked off around 2009-2010, the world of esports has steadily grown over the last decade and become so popular as to receive its own tab on the ESPN homepage.
Varsity collegiate esports began in 2014 when Robert Morris University in Illinois announced a scholarship-sponsored League of Legends team. Since then, the scene has ballooned to include around 125 programs, with a national governing body known as the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) as the main home for most of those organizations.
The sport continues growing rapidly every year, even eclipsing the 2018 and 2019 Super Bowl viewership. 2019’s Super Bowl averaged 98.2 million viewers. The League of Legends World Championship video game tournament in December 2018, had 100 million unique viewers — up 20 percent from the year before.
Colleges across the United States and Canada have rapidly joined the craze. Only seven colleges and universities had varsity esports programs in July of 2016. But by 2018 there were 63 institutions, including University of California-Irvine and the University of Utah .
Building gaming stadiums and arenas has become a major concern for many universities with serious money being invested. The University of Akron plans to build the world’s largest esports facility, costing them around $750,000 and spending another $400,000 on program operating expenses and $70,000 more for game licenses and other associated costs.
While this might sound expensive, compared to what colleges usually spend on sports, esports is extremely affordable. While some universities have opted to spend big bucks on building large gaming centers built for the pure purpose of esports, many universities have opted to hold their competitions in the labs they already have.
Esports is a relatively new and exciting development in the world of collegiate technology. It is gaining more steam every day with ESPN just recently announcing the first-ever ESPN Collegiate Esports Championship (CEC). It’s time to start paying attention to the future of university sports: esports!