Florida Southern College begins esports program

 

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.

 

MSC SkyPad gives students a place of escape

The University of South Florida has one of the biggest buildings called the Marshall Student Center, open from 7 a.m. to midnight on weekdays and varies on Saturdays and Sundays.  It would be very difficult to escort students out when closing time happens because students enjoy themselves in the SkyPad on the 4th floor assisted by Jennifer Hernandez, the Associate Director for Operations of the building.

“Based on some feedback from the students we did not provide enough relaxation space and gaming space,” Hernandez said. “So there were two meeting rooms that were in existence in that space when we first moved in, so it was a minor construction project that we brought online to add that gaming area and the place for students to study.”

The SkyPad is a place where students can have fun by plugging in their video games and play all by themselves or with friends, forming a group together to study and many other things to do.

The Video Game Club President of USF, Adham Hessen, has his experiences at the SkyPad by making friends.

“I particularly enjoy the SkyPad myself, because it’s a place where I actually met my friends and now I continue to meet them up here playing video games together,” Hessen said. “It’s tons of fun. We laugh, made a lot of jokes, but it was fun.”

The SkyPad was created in September 13, 2011 and founded by Joe Synovec, the previous director of the Marshall Student Center. It features a total of seven LCD screen televisions with multiple ways to connect electronics, two dry erase boards for multiple purposes, vending machines for refreshments, plenty of tables to work on studies, couches to recline on and a large studying space that is close to the railing of the building.