Collegiate gaming at Lakeland is right around the corner, and students are voicing their opinions as more details are being announced.
Esports is an up and coming form of entertainment that is quickly spreading in popularity with over 150 different colleges participating in the National Association of College Esports (NACE). Esports revolves around teams competing in player vs. player video games. Some of the most popular competitively played games include Overwatch, League of Legends, Call of Duty, and Smite.
Esports has become one of the largest revenue–generating enterprises in recent years. Global Esports reached a 27 percent incline in revenue, gaining a little over 1 billion dollars in 2019. This could make the sport a very beneficial asset to any organization. Esports’ growth is apparent as 97 percent of all varsity Esports programs in the US are part of NACE.
In Lakeland’s most recent announcement about the addition of Esports, they stated that there would be an arena fit for the team. David Simon, vice president of campus life, stated that Lakeland does indeed have plans to create an Esports arena on campus, but will not be building a new facility.
Many students expressed their opinions on the idea of Esports getting its own building. This led to more clarification on the subject. “Lakeland is not building an Esports arena on campus, more so renovating a storage area to become the space that will house Esports,” Simon stated.
The announcement was met with mixed reviews from students. The Lakeland Facebook page made a post announcing the team. Immediately, students voiced their opinions on the subject. Some went on to write comments that suggest the school focus more on current sports, or that they simply believe Esports does not belong in collegiate competition. Not all comments expressed concern, as some alumni stated that they wished this had come sooner.
In an interview, Sarah Lotz, a senior, expressed her concerns on the subject, but was still supportive of the idea. “I think it should definitely not be a focus for the school, but I know a lot of people on campus play video games regularly. Esports is becoming very popular, so it does make sense.”
In the world of Esports, PCs make up a large portion of the platform, but consoles still have a good presence. The question of if Lakeland would have enough equipment has been brought up quite a lot around campus. To give some insight, Simon stated that there would be 18 different PC stations in the arena. At the same time, the consoles will be made up of an Xbox, PlayStation, and a Nintendo Switch.
A coach has yet to be announced, but as soon as one does, tryouts will begin. Students can apply for the team through Lakeland.edu/esports. Lakeland is also asking for recommendations on what games students would like to see the team play. This can also be found on the same Lakeland page.