Students Turn to Competition and Community in Esports During COVID-19
October 29, 2020
Despite the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic brings to student engagement, the Bradley Esports Committee is currently having its best semester yet. Its more than 200 members regularly participate in community events, community discourse and a variety of game competitions, all while being physically distanced and safe. The Bradley Esports Committee is a student organization that works with other gaming clubs, the Department of Campus Recreation and the Office of Student Affairs to manage and develop esports and gaming at Bradley.
Esports is all about competitive video gaming and the community surrounding it. Gaming refers to the general community and interest of video games. Although the Bradley Esports Committee was officially sanctioned as a student organization in early 2019, esports and gaming have been on campus since 2015 with the League of Legends Club and the Super Smash Bros Club.
Students who have joined the Bradley Esports and Gaming Discord server, an online communication platform commonly used by video game communities, can engage in esports and gaming in many different ways. Students can join one of the nine competitive teams that compete in national tournaments and leagues. For those who want to compete at the intramural level, Bradley Campus Recreation is partnering with the Bradley Esports Committee to offer esports intramurals this semester. Students also use the Discord server to play pickup games, hangout or just chat.
Committee members say esports and gaming at Bradley has created a stronger sense of community and belonging with those who are like minded and enjoy gaming. They say their work goes beyond just gaming. When the Bradley Esports Committee was created, it opened up more channels where participants can develop skills potentially leading to new career paths by offering volunteer positions and bringing in experts from companies like Twitch and Microsoft to talk about the growing industry.
The Bradley Esports Committee is currently working with Bradley’s faculty and staff to implement an esports and gaming program to grow and improve its presence on campus. The committee’s board of directors is working with admission representatives to promote esports and gaming to incoming students. Organizers are also teaming with campus recreation staff to market to current students and encourage more participation in intramurals.
There are more than 170 schools in the U.S. with varsity esports programs, including Butler University, Illinois Wesleyan University and Illinois State University. More than 214 million individuals play video games in the U.S.