eSports Comes to NMC
December 11, 2020
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Editor in Chief
Photo by Ann Hosler
Gamers compete against each other in Heroes of the Storm during BlizzCon 2014.
One of the fastest growing sports has come to NMC this semester, but it’s not your parents’ typical tailgating event.
In September, NMC rolled out its new eSports program, aimed at connecting students through competitive level video gaming. The games consist of organized multiplayer competitions, through either individual or team play. NMC players have been playing Rocket League, League of Legends, and Rainbow 6 this semester, honing their skills in friendly competitions with each other and in local tournaments. Varsity level leagues compete against other schools on state and national levels, and have student requirements like minimum GPAs and full-time status. eSports clubs see players competing in tournaments hosted by club teams at other colleges, or by sites that specialize in eSports, without the student requirements Varsity carries. Both are highly competitive.
Collegiate eSports clubs have quickly grown in popularity over the last decade, both with players and viewers. Over 170 colleges and universities are members of the National Association of Collegiate eSports (NACE), while thousands more offer clubs and programs as well. Championship games see livestream viewership in the millions, with younger generations at the forefront of audiences.
There was immediate interest in the new program. Eighty-seven students have signed up on the NMC eSports Discord server, an instant messaging and voice-over-IP, since the league was announced at the beginning of the fall semester.
“I am a gamer myself and I thought it would be cool to meet new friends and participate in tournaments,” said the group’s student representative, Lael Del Angel Serrano. Del Angel Serrano had not played competitively before but has enjoyed both the challenge and the opportunity to meet new people within the gaming community. They cite the comradery that comes with connecting with others who have the same passions. “I hope that everyone that becomes a member of the NMC eSports program is able to experience the gaming community’s power to bring people together and display everyone’s unique skill sets and playstyles.” In a time when the traditional in-person college experience is being turned on its head, a virtual sports team is better equipped to easily abide by current safety protocol and standards.
The program was originally set to be announced last April in conjunction with the completion of West Hall, which would house a new gaming room for the program in its basement. However, the program’s announcement was put on hold when COVID-19 forced the campus to close and West Hall’s construction came to a halt. Construction on the building was finished in time for the start of the fall semester, though COVID restrictions has put a hold on in-person meetings of NMC eSports for the time being.
The in-person postponement had one unexpected upside, however, says the group’s faculty advisor, Terri Gustafson.“The delay has actually helped us rethink the original room setup, so we are making some layout changes to the room while the on-campus restrictions are in place.”
Gustafson sees NMC eSports as a great source of potential for the college. In the future, it could lead to new student recruitment, scholarships, and the creation of NMC’s only varsity sport. “Across the state of Michigan and really, the country, colleges and universities have dedicated teams and coaches for eSports and spend just as much time as a traditional sports recruiting the best players to come to join their team,” says Gustafson.
If you’d like to join NMC eSports, sign up at discord.gg/69DSzHTZPR. All levels of player are welcomed and encouraged.