Gaming and Sports Collide

By R.D. Le Claire

In the realm of esports, video games are played instead of more conventional athletic sports. Esports was recognized by the United States since it began administering visas for international athletes to esports participants in 2013. Malone Esports is made up of teams that participate in sporting events against other schools.

“[Esports is] like the geeks’ version of a sports game,” Dalayna Riffle, senior zoo and wildlife biology major, said. “But instead of covering their faces with paint and wearing jerseys, they compare controllers and wear geeky shirts, and instead of cheering when they make a touchdown, we just cheer when they hit a green shell or when they fall off rainbow road. It’s truly a great time.” 

“Esports, in my mind, is a new and upcoming way for people who already had a passion to take it to a new level and to experience something similar to the comradery of [a traditional] sports team… in a way that’s unique to them” Andrew Boak, the staff representative of Malone Esports, said. 

“I personally received email invitations from [esports leagues] saying, ‘Hey if you have a team we would love to have them play,’” Boak said.

Some of these leagues have cash prizes for the winners. 

“When you’re on a team you can find relationships with people who you wouldn’t normally see or interact with,” Dylan Riffle, junior business administration major and the president of Malone Esports, said. “It’s basically just like [traditional] sports but with no physical fitness required — just pure gamer skill.” 

“Anybody can join,” Boak said. “If they want to actually compete on a team then academic eligibility comes into play, just like [it] would for any other sport.”

Because esports is a sport and is treated as such by Malone, a couple more qualifications are required to join a gaming team. These include full-time student status, but these requirements do not need to be met to simply participate in activities put on by Malone Esports. 

The main activity Malone Esports hosts are game nights around campus. These game nights are just for fun, and everyone is welcome. Games are provided, and students can come and go as they please.

“We like having games that you can just pick up and play,” Dylan Riffle said. People who have little to no experience in playing video games can arrive and play, learn to play, or just enjoy the social gathering of people they may not have otherwise met.

On Friday evening of March 5, Malone Esports hosted a Mario Kart 8 Deluxe tournament. Participants had a variety of skill levels. Some participants had not even played the game before, and some had practiced extensively for this event. 

Students from different departments and majors came together to participate and socialize. Some student participants were from off-campus, and some were residents. Rewards for those who earned first and second place in the tournament were earnestly competed for. 

Over 18 students participated in the tournament. The first-place winner was Scott Markle, senior computer science major, and second place went to Jeremy Shattell, junior accounting major.

Notices about Malone Esports events and game nights are sent out via email to all students. If someone wants to join they can send an email to esports@malone.edu, or join the Malone Esports Discord server. 

“[The Discord server is] the primary way for people to contact me,” Boak said. Discord is one of the biggest social media platforms, and is aimed towards video game users. Discord is free to download and can be used in a similar fashion to Zoom or Messenger on a phone or computer.

Getting involved with Malone Esports is a fun way to increase gaming skills and meet people passionate about the non-traditional sport. The gaming community on campus welcomes anyone interested with open arms, and can’t wait to see everyone at the next game night!

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