NATCHITOCHES, La. (KSLA) — Northwestern State University is taking its students to the next level with the launch of an esports program.
Esports, or electronic sports, is competitive or recreational gaming; and it is exploding in popularity.
“It has grown from essentially casual gaming, people playing at home to people getting paid a lot of money to play competitively or to stream as an entertainer,” said Chance Creppel, coordinator of competitive sports at Northwestern State.
“We worked with students, worked with focus groups, and we came up with the esports venue,” said Dr. Chris Maggio, NSU president. “The way we built it is for recreational players and competitive players also.”
Located inside Friedman Student Union, NSU’s modern esports venue is housed in a 3,500-square-foot lounge that once was the campus bookstore. Students have free access to two dozen computers and gaming consoles to explore the world of gaming.
The lounge fosters a simple, but relaxing atmosphere, with sleek , colored lighting and couches nicely spaced out between mounted TVs. Two rows of computers are available for more recreational gamers, while a third is separated for competitive players.
Creppel said students have access to more than a dozen games on PC and around seven to eight on consoles, but NSU continues to add more.
“When we first opened, it was a very soft opening, we had about seven to eight students during the week,” added Creppel. “Now we’re averaging about 50 to 60 students throughout the day.”
Maggio said students of all skill levels are welcome at the esports venue, but its purpose extends far beyond simply blowing some steam with friends through video games. The esports program at NSU has a strong academic and professional tie.
“We are going to start an esports concentration: ESports Managment,” explained Maggio. “We’ll have an academic degree in our College of Business; and we’re also tying in our other academic areas on campus, such as journalism.”
Maggio said journalism students will serve as play-by-play broadcasters when different tournaments are held in the venue.
“That’s the end goal. This opened up an opportunity.”
The space was created for students who want to play in both casual and intense settings.
Students can play in teams or can participate solo. In fact, NSU joined the National Association of Collegiate Esports and hopes to be able to make a name for itself in the realm of competitive gaming.
NSU’s esports venue is open weekdays from 1-9 p.m. and on Sundays from 5-9 p.m. Use of the facility is free to students.