Evolving your college esports program is crucial for attracting the next generation of students. College Esports programs are a great addition to campuses worldwide, providing many social, academic, and personal benefits for students. Team building, scholarships, STEM skills and community are some of the incredible ways an esports program can contribute to student life. Plus, the competitive side of collegiate esports allows colleges and gamers to garner notable reputations in this growing industry.
In this article, we’re going to show you how to evolve your college esports program and take your game to the next level.
The Benefits for Improving your College Esports Program
As already mentioned, there are many reasons why esports programs are good for student life. From improvements in hand eye coordination to usage in critical thinking and problem solving, esports is one of the best mediums where students can put their skills to the test. There are many benefits to having esports as a program for students to participate in. This includes keeping up to date with the latest gaming technology, keeping track of current and upcoming events/games related to competitive esports, introducing new teams and simply expanding to better accommodate current and future students with an interest.
An Expanding Esports Program Keeps Students Coming
Usually when esports programs start out, they are relatively small. Oftentimes, a modest esports corner is installed in the campus’ recreational facility, and the program grows from there.
However, more colleges are recognizing the importance of esports, launching their programs with new arenas, scholarships and varsity in place. No matter where your program begins, expansion into the future should be your goal.
Expansion requires you to do two things: grow the student body in your program and increase the amount of gaming technology you have. As esports grow, and programs become more competitive, you want to offer potential students a vibrant esports culture and access to the latest technology. Students are going into these programs with the intention of making a career, and they’ll follow the best opprotunity.
Calhoun Community College in Tanner, Alabama is a good example of successful expansion. They recently announced plans to triple the size of their current esports program by the 2022 spring semester. This is to make way for incoming students and to better accommodate the teams for future competitions. Along with this increase, they also plan to incorporate more gaming systems including the PlayStation 5 which is currently in short supply.
Keeping Up With the Latest Technology
Gaming, as with any technology, is a medium that continues to evolve as the years go by. As a result, esports programs need to keep up with the latest PC and consoles. This way it appeals to the latest generation of students entering the collegiate gaming sphere. Beyond systems, keeping the latest peripherals and games will make your program much more appealing.
When it comes to peripherals, they can either make or break a system. Avoid bad peripherals like the NES’s R.O.B. the robot or the Konami Laserscope (check this list for more bad peripherals). Instead, focus on good peripherals that will help enhance the gaming experience, like the PS VR for virtual reality experiences or specialized keyboards and headsets for the PC gamers. Likewise, accessibility is crucial for inclusivity, so invest in peripherals that accommodate gamers with specific disabilities.
Keeping up with games is just as important too. New games come out every year and a selection of those find their way into the world of esports. Call of Duty, for example, releases new titles annually which makes it a staple in the FPS realm of esports. Older games such as Fortnite have been continuously updated so that their player-base is kept entertained.
There is also the possibility for completely new genres of games to enter the world of esports. A competitive platform such as Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout or a social deduction game like Among Us are making their own impressions in the industry. Not only does having the latest games and genres keep your esports program alive but it also adds extra variety for students to choose from. When it comes to this, students will potentially want to go competitive with the genre, leading to new teams being formed.
More Teams Makes More Dreams
One of the major benefits that esports has over traditional sports is variety when it comes to teams. There can be teams for certain genres and even specific games. The genres of esports is vast from strategy, FPS, MOBA, battle royale, fighting and racing. The list of games under each category makes diversity in the program that much more appealing to players. As a result, it helps your program to be as diverse in choice as possible for varsity teams that go competitive. Just remember that it is important not to overload on teams. After all, there is a limited budget for the program, so find what games and genres resonate with your students.
Western Michigan University announced plans to add new teams to broaden their reach in competitive esports. These include teams for Valorant, Rocket League and Overwatch, all popular games in the esports field. As of writing this, tryouts are currently underway for the new teams and will end on Sunday, December 5. Their new teams are already planning to compete in the upcoming Mid-American Conference’s (MAC) Esports Collegiate Conference. WMU looks to take their esports program to the next level by making these moves. This shows that the addition of new teams is vital in helping programs grow.
Industry Experience Beyond Gaming
Esports is ramping up to be a billion dollar industry, and your college esports program is a pivotal gateway into the larger parts of the industry. Expansion of programs not only help students in the competitive circuit but also helps those with an interest in the other important parts. This includes broadcasting, commentary, production, marketing and other important parts that make the esports industry a well oiled machine. Esports programs help nurture and grow the skill sets necessary to help make this field even greater.
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Written by contributing intern Matthew Carrico