“Esports should be considered vital for a student’s brain development process, because gaming itself is a brain developing exercise and many schools have adopted games like StarCraft into their curriculum. I look forward to seeing this in our colleges and universities in India.” – College student in India
“Esports are eGood!” – IT manager at US community college
If you don’t yet have an esports program at your school, the time has come to start planning one. And for very important reasons, including student recruiting and retaining, preparing for the job market of tomorrow, blending on-campus and online experiences, and overall enrichment of the student experience. esports may be less costly and easier to get off the ground at your school than you realize.
We asked schools and colleges around the world about their involvement with and plans for esports. We found that the concept is already broadly understood and rapidly being implemented. At a minimum, esports require a coach, players, game stations (owned or borrowed), and a connection to the Internet. The other end of the spectrum is open-ended, involving a gaming arena, recruiting and training staff, training rooms, travel budget, and scholarship funding.
Our survey found that 20% have an esports program. But that’s because it’s new – 70% have had the program for less than a year. Less than 10% have had it for longer than 3 years. According to ESPN, there are now 125 varsity collegiate esports teams around the country. Most of the esports programs are intercollegiate, but 24% are intramural-only.
In terms of housing the esports program, they are primarily managed within an academic department today, with slightly fewer schools managing their programs through their athletic departments.
Today, 40% of schools have a special esports competition facility. The network has either recently been upgraded (76%) or will be upgraded within a year (24%).
7 Days Out: League of Legends; Games that draw 100 million watchers
The Netflix series 7 Days Out profiled Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng, one of the best League of Legends players in the world. The show begins with the semifinals of the North American League of Legends Championship Series in Los Angeles and ends with the championship. Competitors vie for a $108,000 first place prize. Going on to the world championships can mean a first place prize of $2.4 million.
Governing bodies can help out; 45% of schools with esports programs are members of one. The most popular is the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE). Others mentioned in our survey include North America Scholastic Esports Federation, Esport Gaming Association Australia (EGAA), High School Esports League (HSEL), GPAC Conference, and TESPA. For high school PlayVS bills itself as “the official league for high school esports”.
The biggest perceived hurdles are finding the resources and the expertise to launch the program. To help with the planning, SUNY Canton shared how they did it at Extreme Connect during their session, Introducing and Implementing Esports at SUNY Canton. Some schools go as far as offering financial aid and incentives (18%). Other schools require the students to play from home because they don’t have the right equipment, or they require students to bring their own equipment. We asked about annual expenses:
Here are more comments from the survey