No basketball, no baseball, no hockey, no football, no nothin’ – or wait, maybe there is something…
While colleges and universities have had to cancel many live sporting events, eSports and on-line gaming have seen a spike in interest. (In fact, viewership on Twitch, the go-to site for game streamers, is up 31 percent.1) For example, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference had to cancel its Division I NCAA Conference Basketball Championships in late March, but their eSports Championship, also scheduled for March, was able to go on – virtually. eSports has the advantage of having single competitors playing online against each other, which makes it perfectly suited for the more virtual world with which we are now faced.
Students have expressed an interest in participating in eSports events, even while away from campus. While individual players miss the social connections and the camaraderie that comes from being part of an in-person team, it is possible to train, compete, and create entertainment virtually online. However, bandwidth, server instability, a crowded landscape, and ensuring that players have the capabilities to play from home, has presented logistical challenges, especially for schools with smaller teams.
Some colleges and universities see this continuity of eSports as a means of staying connected to the greater student population during the shutdown of college campuses. Others see opportunity for branding, while some see opportunities for recruiting at the high school level. The continuation of eSports during this era of live event uncertainty – despite the hurdles – reflects the passion and energy behind it. In this world of social distancing, eSports is having its time in the spotlight by offering users the opportunity to stay connected, hone their skills, and do something fun and competitive with their peers.
* L.R. Kimball recently completed work on a new eSports gaming room for Mount Aloysius College, located in Cosgrave Hall. The project included the renovation of approximately 500 SF, which created a new eSports room for student use.