By Brock White
Volume 67, No. 6
eSports programs are taking colleges across America by storm. While eSports is on the rise, many people still aren’t familiar with exactly what it is. eSports is “the world of competitive and organized electronic video gaming” according to AJ Willingham, who wrote about the billion-dollar industry in 2018. It allows both individuals and teams to compete against one another, just like more traditional sports.
Malone started its eSports program in the fall of 2019 because students began showing interest in the innovative opportunity known as competitive online gaming. For Malone, eSports is considered a club sport, so students with any video game background can join and play with friends.
“The whole goal for Malone eSports is for students to be able to join in and have fun,” Andrew Boak, head coach and organizer of eSports, said. He also explained that eSports can allow students to learn new leadership and teamwork skills by coming together and playing video games.
Dylan Riffle, student leadership president for eSports, got into eSports because he played video games growing up. He wanted to test his skills out against other students on campus.
“Because of eSports, I was able to get to know people, gain leadership skills, and also build upon my resume,” Riffle said.
Malone’s eSports team currently reaches out to students via email, flyers across campus, and word-of-mouth advertising from their leaders and players. The club plays games like Rocket League, Smash Brothers, Counter-Strike, and more. They are also open to suggestions of other games that students are interested in playing.
The program has practice in the evenings where they create teams that they believe are ready to compete and win. From there, Boak puts the teams in tiered leagues that allow them to play other competitive teams and universities on a scheduled basis.
“Unlike other sports that are limited by NCAA rulings and regulations, eSports is like the wild west since it’s so new,” Boak said.
One of the most important differences that he sees in these environments is not being capped off by a certain number of players or teams. This allows the team to have many different players who all can play in different games and leagues at the same time.
Another unique aspect of eSports is its competitive ranking system. The ranking system is set up for teams to compete against other teams who have a comparable skill level. This makes tournaments more fun and competitive because it usually allows for closer battles instead of sweeping victories.
The program is hosting a couple of their biggest tournaments this month, and it will feature Malone eSport students. The club will be using East Campus for the event, so they can use big-screen projectors, flashing colorful lights, and special audio features which will help to make the event more exciting and appealing to players and spectators.
During these tournaments, food and drinks will be provided for all participants playing in the event as well as spectators who are there to support and watch. The eSports program is also giving away grand prizes for students who place inside the top three.
“The eSports atmosphere was nothing like I expected,” Dylan Kaufman, a sophomore nursing major who has attended competitive Malone eSport events said. “Matches can be really intense and in return, crowds can be loud and cheer for who they want to win.”
He also encourages more students to attend the club’s events because they may unexpectedly like it just as he did. The club also offers weekly game nights on Wednesdays in different dorm halls each week.
During these game nights, the club brings gaming systems to allow students to come together and play in a more relaxed and non-competitive atmosphere. The eSports club loves having new people stop by these and other game nights, and they always love to hear what games the students are interested in playing more of.
While the eSports program is currently considered a club sport at Malone, they have been working towards becoming a varsity sport and offering student scholarships.
“The university has helped immensely in the process of creating eSports,” Boak said. “They have helped do things like financially support the club through Malone’s club funding budget and they even do things like provide food and snacks at tournaments and game nights.”
The club has also been supported by private eSports donations, which have helped them to purchase things such as special computers and monitors so they can run high-definition games that normal computers can’t always run.
Both Boak and Riffle made it clear that they both want to see the program grow.
“I have seen Andrew put in the work. I want his hard work to pay off and see more new people who want to play games and have fun at both game nights and tournaments,” Riffle said.Students interested in joining Malone’s eSports program for an upcoming game night or bigger event should contact Boak at email@example.com to get involved.