University Joins Esports League
by Skyler Kasinger
Jacksonville State University has joined the National Association for Collegiate Esports (NACE). Esports, which is short for electronic sports, involves competitive gaming with teams and individuals competing in tournaments for prizes.
While it might sound like a way to pass time, the esports industry is currently valued at approximately $1.2 billion with projections that estimate a 60 percent growth by 2027. By the time the current freshman class at Jax State becomes seniors, the industry will approximately attain a market value of $1.92 billion. As a result, the university has moved to fit esports within various degree curriculums, including minors in Esports and Game Design with plans for an Esports major in the future.
JSU Level Up and the Fowl Play teams have been competing in esports for several years but this is the first year that Jax State has been eligible to compete on the varsity level in NACE. Based out of the university’s Longleaf Studios, the esports league competes with other universities in Rocket League, with plans to expand to a variety of genres, such as Apex Legends, Super Smash Brothers and Valorant.
“We're still in the early stages of this, but our goal is to establish a program and space that welcomes and encourages collaboration among students from various academic backgrounds,” said Matt Chumley, JSU director of technology support, who advises the league. “While esports often brings to mind gameplay, there are numerous additional opportunities that complement it. Similar to traditional sports, esports offers roles in broadcasting and streaming, calling for on-air talent, graphic designers, video editors and social media managers. Our aim is to provide hands-on experience in our esports studio for students, equipping them with valuable additions to their portfolios and resumes that will prove beneficial beyond their tenure at Jax State.”
Esports competitions provide students a competitive environment to develop teamwork, leadership and problem-solving skills – allowing them to grow personally and professionally. The league typically competes on Mondays at 6 p.m. at Longleaf Studios. Students interested in joining the league or helping on its production team can learn more on the esports website.