Esports at Berry might not be so crazy after all.
By Michael Earhart, Viking Fusion Reporter
Could it come to Berry? Would people come watch? Will the institution support it?
“It’s kind of a cool concept,” said Lindsey Taylor, assistant vice president for student affairs. “It’s neat to hear that other schools are doing it.”
“I wish I had thought of doing it sooner,” said Matthew Swenson, vice president of the Berry College Alternate Realities Club (BCAR).
What is “it”? Esports, or video games played in competition.
Mario Smash Bros was among the most popular games at
the fall 2015 video game contest. Photo by Michael Earhart.
And according to Cecily Crow, director of student activities, it is possible that Berry could develop an officially sponsored esport team.
“I don’t know where this would fall in,” she said. “It might have to be its own, new category.”
Georgia Tech sponsors GT eSports club as that school’s officially recognized esport team, offering Berry a model for how to pull it off. GT eSports club supports competitive electronic sports, competitive gaming and LAN (local area network) culture, according to its charter.
But GT eSports is decentralized, meaning that “each team forms and manages itself, with some slight oversight from our esports manager,” said Henry Mei, a student at Georgia Tech and an organizer of GT eSports.
The decentralized approach has helped GT eSports to excel, while also promoting community among casual players, Mei said. At the same time, having a singular identity as GT eSports helps strengthen awareness of esports generally at Georgia Tech in a way that casual or informal “teams” throughout campus could not, he said.
If gamers at Berry wanted to something similar to GT eSports club, they would need official sponsorship by either participating as part of an existing student organization or by forming a new organization and gaining official school organization status.
A possible incubator for just such an organization already exists –BCAR, an officially recognized student organization. BCAR gathers those interested in science fiction, fantasy and animation.
Swenson, a junior engineering major at Berry, has been a member of BCAR all three years and co-president for two of those years.
“In the period that I’ve been here running the video game contest, I’ve seen larger turnouts,” he said. “At this year’s contest, there were only eight players in the Halo tournament, but there were constantly 30 people surrounding the screen.”
Fortunately, the barrier to entry is pretty low compared to conventional sports, Mei said.
“We don’t need to find a practice facility, equipment or team-specific staffing,” he said.
Students interested in participating on an esport team are encouraged by BCAR to contact them via email or by getting in touch with Matthew Swenson.
Students interested in creating a student organization devoted to esports should contact Crow.
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