Does Your School Have eSports Yet? Learn More At Extreme Connect 2019

Bob Nilsson Director, Vertical Solutions Marketing Published 24 Apr 2019

Around the world, colleges and high schools are ramping up eSports programs. Among the many benefits are improved student recruiting and retention. But there can be challenges in implementing new programs like this. Extreme Connect 2019 offers the opportunity to learn from those who have already successfully gone through the process. In fact, on opening night the conference will feature an eSports tournament with six professional eSports players from SUNY Canton—a university with a full eSports arena and campus powered by Extreme Networks technology.

What

eSports Tournament 

An intercollegiate competition between SUNY Canton and Alfred State followed by an open opportunity for Extreme Connect 2019 conference attendees to play against the SUNY Canton collegiate eSports team

Session About Creating an Esports Program at your School

SUNY Canton eSports experts will host a breakout session to share insights on creating a successful eSports program.

Where

Extreme Connect 2019

J.W. Marriott

Nashville, Tennessee

Livestreamed at https://www.twitch.tv/sunycanton 

When

May 13, 2019

7:30 PM – 9:00 PM CDT 

How eSports Positively Impact Universities and Students Alike 

Gaming is becoming one of the most influential and rapidly growing industries with the introduction of eSports, which is expected to grow to $1.4 billion by 2020 (Newzoo).

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In the spirit of something that’s sure to be one of the most exciting parts of the event, let’s dive into the top benefits of eSports, both for schools and students.

eSports has proven to be a booming endeavor, and SUNY Canton is a prime example of how an eSports program can bring success. In 2017, SUNY Canton President Zvi Szafran was considering new ways to grow his athletic department. He found that statistically, student-athletes have higher GPAs, better retention, and excellent graduation rates compared with the rest of the student body. Recruiting more academically-successful students was a priority, and President Szafran arrived at a concept that was unconventional, but promising: eGaming. More specifically, eSports. Within a few short months, SUNY Canton built three eSports teams competing at the varsity level with other colleges and universities around the country. Needless to say, eSports is growing fast, and university athletic departments and administrators are taking notice. 

It’s a different take on team sports, but how does it positively impact students and universities? To start, eSports isn’t just about playing games. Its popularity has opened the door to new career paths in game design and development. Working in the eSports industry or becoming a professional gamer isn’t a fantasy; it’s a path many students are actively choosing. While it’s not a traditional physical sport, participants experience team sport competition, leadership opportunities, and teamwork. In fact, Indeed job postings related to eSports are up 18 percent since last year and 57 percent since 2015.

The number of people who watch and participate in eSports will grow from 395 million this year to 580 million by 2021 according to Newzoo.

Here are some of the benefits:

  • Diversifies the curriculum with new classes focused on video game design, development, and business 
  • Opens the door to new career paths
  • Encourages inclusivity with: Competitors of all physical abilities, mixed-gender teams that break the stereotype of gaming being male-dominated, a focus on talent rather than gender
  • Reaches new groups of enrolled students who weren’t previously engaged in campus life

When Pro Gaming and the Network Collide

Getting students excited to participate in eSports at SUNY Canton was an easy feat.  The harder part was putting a well-equipped playing arena in place: a digital gaming center fully outfitted with monitors, high-performance computers, headsets, speakers, and equipment lockers. This requires a super high-speed Wi-Fi network to effectively power games and equipment. Even a five-millisecond delay in connectivity can significantly impact the outcome of a game.

After witnessing Extreme’s capabilities as the official Wi-Fi and analytics provider for the NFL, SUNY Canton decided to partner with Extreme. The IT team’s installation of ExtremeSwitching, ExtremeWireless, ExtremeManagement and ExtremeAnalytics products enabled:

  • A state-of-the-art, high-speed wireless gaming arena completed for the Fall 2018 semester
  • Three eSports teams
  • New game design courses

“We were able to move fast to implement eSports athletic teams and academic programs because of partnerships with companies including Extreme Networks. Extreme provides a high-bandwidth, low-latency wireless network to support our programs and enable flawless gaming and learning. With the support of Extreme, SUNY Canton built a dedicated eSports arena where on-campus students can convene, practice, compete, and connect with their online team members.” – Molly Mott, Associate Provost/Dean of Academic Support Services for SUNY Canton

SUNY Canton at Extreme Connect: Breakdown of the Big Game

So, what will the eSports tournament at Extreme Connect 2019 look like?

First off, an Overwatch competition will take place between pro gamers from SUNY Canton and another university team live-streamed to SUNY Canton’s Twitch Channel. Overwatch happens to be one of the most fun games out there for spectators. It’s a first-person shooter game, but not too graphic or gory. An expert shout-caster will keep the excitement rolling with play-by-play, controlling what viewers are seeing on the big screen, and making the calls.

After SUNY Canton vanquishes their competitors, Connect attendees will be invited to join the players and experience an eSports tournament with actual pro players! Still haven’t registered for Extreme Connect? Register for Connect now.

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