Esports rises in popularity with students

Rebekah Waldron, North Campus Editor

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Colleges and universities nationwide are starting up competitive Esports clubs on their campuses.

Esports involves a community that competes through video games. Usually, these video games are multiplayer and team-oriented. Games like DOTA 2, League of Legends, Rocket League, Overwatch, and more are among the most popular within the community.

“When we started our club, it was just friends getting together to play video games,” reflects Tyler Coates, president and founder of the Robert Morris University Esports Club. “We try to just have fun with it. We’re all college students, we all have a lot on our plates. Obviously we take things seriously, but it’s just better to enjoy our time with what we’re doing.”

Video games have faced controversy as of late, especially any with violent scenes or characters.  “RMU doesn’t support the team playing first-person shooter games,” Coates explains. “They never have, years ago, or now.” This is also a theme across the nation. Esports clubs and teams that are affiliated with schools and other public organizations are being required to filter the video games they stream or compete with.

The gaming community is a wide-spread and expansive group of people across the world. “I started playing PlayStation around 7 or 8. My first game was NHL,” Norman Riffner, secretary of the RMU Esports Club, looks back to his beginnings. Jonathan Russell, CCAC alumnus and now RMU proud, joins the nostalgia, “My brother had me playing Halo 3 when I was young. I ended up joining some neighbors for a Halo tournament when I was 9 or so.”

RMU isn’t the only campus with a large video game following. CCAC itself has a widespread community as well. “I’ve been playing Halo since I was 3 years old,” says Victoria “Vee” Burdelski, a first-year student at CCAC North. She grew up with her brother playing video games in split-screen competitive and co-op mode with their dad. “I’d be very likely to join a club like that. I’m more of a casual gamer, but it sounds like a lot of fun.”

Competitions that take place within the Esports community can be as small as local area network (LAN) parties, or being within the same room, or as large as a world-wide online competition. The female aspect of the gamer world is also recognized within the community. GIRLGAMER Esports Festival heads to Dubai for the word finals. It will be hosted in early December at the Meydan Grandstand.

Fahad Abdulrahim Kazim, Vice President of Meydan Malls commented, “This is a very exciting and proud moment for us. To be partnering with GIRLGAMER to bring one of the world’s most exciting, and forward-thinking Esports concepts to the Middle East is a real honor, and something that exemplifies the DNA of Meydan One and solidifies our commitment to the ever-growing world of Esports.”

Coates, Russell, and Riffner have all expressed that friendship is exactly what brought together the RMU Esports club. “It leads to friendships and fun competition.” Connections and fun are a key component to Russell, being a candidate for new presidency as the current leadership board steps down and prepares to graduate. “I attribute our success to the great communication and teamwork skills we’ve built.”