Staring in January of 2018, Florida Southern College is joining the movement that many deem the future of competitive athletics, esports.
Ditching basketball courts and soccer nets, esports allows gamers to competitively play video games with other teams. While the concept is revolutionary, it is also very new. Its long-term impacts are unknown, but some believe esports could lead to negative impacts, such as harming our environment.
Despite this concern, students and faculty at FSC are excited for the start of competitive gaming. They will be joining schools like the University of South Florida, Florida Gulf Coast University and Florida State University in the movement.
Florida Southern President Anne Kerr believes that the good from bringing in esports outweighs any potential bad.
“We are all learning together,” Kerr said. “I think this is a great way to bring our students together.”
Florida Southern College President Anne Kerr and Vice President Robert Tate are excited to bring the esports program to Florida Southern.
“With our growing computer science major, you have to think ‘how do we change to meet the needs of our students’?” Kerr said.
The National Association of Collegiate eSports is responsible for 90 percent of all varsity esports programs in America. According to the NACE, only seven colleges and universities had esports programs in 2016. Today, it holds about 30 schools in its membership.
Its rapid rise in popularity has been well documented. The 2014 League of Legends World Championship drew an online viewership of 27 million people, according to the NACE.
“It really is a spectator sport”, Kerr said.
Those who are interested can watch the competitions through their personal devices or in giant, flashing neon stadiums.
The movement is sweeping across colleges and universities nationwide, but the impacts of this concept have had little time to be addressed. The type of intense, high tech equipment that it requires uses a massive amount of energy. These are a few examples of features that require high energy usage:
- Sophisticated widescreen computers
- Gamer specific lighting in game rooms
- Gaming stadiums, complete with monitors large enough for an audience to view
The esports program will use a massive amount of energy.
With just 30 schools involved in the esports program, the negative effects of intense computer labs and spectator fueled gaming events are limited.
However, esports continues to grow in popularity, even outside of the school setting. That increase, with the continued use of fossil fuels, will further intensify the negative impact on our environment.
Morgan Napper is an environmental science student at Hillsborough Community College. She is concerned with the potential impacts of esports.
“It’s kind of a new thing so I doubt there is a whole lot of research but anything that uses such a high amount of power is a bad thing for our energy usage,” Napper said. “I mean, there could be ways to incorporate green technology but really I doubt that’s a priority.”
Though esports is a relatively new construct, researchers have been looking into the health impacts of video games for years.
Without concrete evidence, President Kerr stands strong in her support of esports.
“There is great excitement on campus,” she said.
Florida Southern will offer competition for League of Legends, Overwatch and Hearthstone, three of the most popular games within the esports community.