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Collegiate Communities of Esports Bring Attention to the Voices of Gamers

People pour in through the double glass doors with Nintendo Switch adaptors tucked under their arms to get half off of the $10 buy in for the Smash Bros Ultimate tournament hosted by GameSync every Thursday night in Kearny Mesa. Sam Glick, the tournament organizer for Smash nights, sits at the front checking in the players, collecting money and setting up the brackets.

“I really still enjoy playing the games I compete in,” Glick says. “And I just really like the people I interact with. And I like to think most people would have the same answer, especially for Smash players.”

Schools like Boise State, Mizzou and the University of Oklahoma have adopted their own Esports teams which offer scholarships to players who come to the school to compete playing games like Smite, Overwatch and Counter Strike.

In a phone interview with The Point, Victoria Horsley, marketing manager for the National Association for Collegiate Esports (NACE), says that NACE gives out approximately $15 million worth of scholarships to Esports players all over the country.

Horsley says that a benefit of having an Esports team is the addition of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) majors whereas most sports teams are filled with mostly business majors. Additionally, the average ACT score of an Esports applicant is a 30 which can be appealing for some universities.

“It makes those students feel like they can actually be a part of the campus culture,” Horsley says. “And it creates more a positive campus culture because instead of them moving through the system and graduating, they actually feel like they were a part of something.”

At Point Loma, Jacob Stubbs, senior music major and former president of the PLNU Esports club, says that anywhere from 30 to 50 people show up for each event they put on because it is open to both the students and the San Diego community.

These tournaments bring in a diverse group of people with a mix of outgoing and quiet gamers. Stubbs enjoys talking to other players about the professional Esports world and their favorite games, including League of Legends, Smash Bros and Overwatch.

“It’s really fun to be able to watch it and then immediately play right afterward,” Stubbs says “And then see what the professionals are doing and then try to emulate it and then be like ‘oh man, that’s so hard.’”

Nina Thorson, a junior biology major, hosts a World Championship viewing party almost every year with friends to watch the professional players compete against each other playing video games in huge, sold-out stadiums. Her goal is to go to the World Championships next time it is in the U.S.

Though Thorson also loves to play these games, she has to balance her video game time with her school time. Thorson has a rule of thumb where she tries to stay away from video games during the week because she wants to devote her time to keeping up with all of her schoolwork. But when it comes to the weekend, Thorson dedicates some time for herself to play and unwind.

“It’s like a hobby that anyone has, you make time for it,” Thorson says. “You work hard during the week so you have time for it later on.”


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Jenna Miller

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