Cameron University is adding a new type of student sports team, although these players won’t be found on the basketball or tennis court, on a golf course or running track. Instead, they will make up CU’s new esports (from electronic sports) team, where players compete in digital arenas in multi-layer video game competitions. Collegiate esports is becoming one of the fastest-growing student activities on campuses across the country, and Cameron University is joining the field of competition.

 Cameron University’s esports program will offer full-time students a chance to be a part of the new esports team that will compete in tournaments and scrimmages in the video games “League of Legends,” “Overwatch,” and “Super Smash Bros.” The team will compete against other universities throughout the year.

“The creation of an esports team at Cameron is more than an extracurricular activity,” says Dr. Christopher Keller, Chair of the Department of Communication, English and Foreign Languages. The administration of the esports unit will fall under his supervision. “We plan to start with 12 to 15 team members, each of whom will have to exercise critical thinking and be able to work together to achieve team goals. For team-based games, just as in other sports, players often have different roles and responsibilities, so good communication and the ability to work together is critical to success. These are skills our students will fine-tune through esports and those skills will serve them throughout their professional lives. In addition, we will incorporate esports-related workshops into our curriculum.””

 Possible workshop topics include “Play-by-Play and Announcing in Electronic Sports,” “Video Production and Esport Broadcast,” and “Storytelling in Digital Gaming.”

 “We hope this will be a popular choice along with our growing roster of student activities and clubs,” says John Cunningham, Esports Coach and Digital Media Manager. “We are grateful for the enthusiasm and support we have received from the community. Students are already clamoring for the opportunity to try out for the team.”

 Students will have the opportunity to register for tryouts starting on Monday, August 19. Applicants will be interviewed to determine who will be eligible for tryouts. Students interested in joining the esports team should send an email to esports@cameron.edu. As with other collegiate sports, members of the esports team must maintain a minimum grade point average. The team is open to both undergraduate and graduate students.

As student workers in the Office of Information Technology, Cameron students Brandon Bermingham and Josh Bales had the opportunity to test the equipment in the Esports Suite.

 “For the gamer without the firepower at home, Cameron’s esports facility will give the edge in equipment and the knowledge of others to improve and adapt,” Bermingham says. “The room provides a very intense yet calm atmosphere and has the best technology. It’s the perfect place for a dedicated gamer.”

Bales agrees. “The video graphics on the gaming consoles are incredible! The high-powered technology and the viewing area for gaming fans make for a great home base for Cameron’s esports team.”

 Cameron’s Esports Suite is located in Room 131 of the Academic Commons. The room is equipped with 12 battle stations that feature state-of-the-art, high-speed Alienware gaming PCs that utilize Nvidia 2080Ti video graphics cards. In addition, the facility has extremely high-speed bandwidth with zero lag.

 “Cameron’s esports gaming arena has equipment that the average home gamer does not have ready access to,” says Cunningham. “This will make our team highly competitive when we enter the fray. In addition to the battle stations, the suite has a seating area for spectators and an announcer’s area, which is is equipped with monitors so that sports announcers can watch the action and provide play-by-play and commentary.”

The suite also contains a gaming console room, which includes a Nintendo Switch station where CU’s competitive Super Smash Bros. team will practice and compete.

 “None of these improvements or equipment would have been possible without the support of The McMahon Foundation, which provided a $110,000 grant,” says Keller. “Once again, the McMahon trustees have committed their support to Cameron University, and we are extraordinarily grateful for that support.”

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