College eSports is growing – building rich and fulfilling communities on campusPosted on: May 21, 2018 By smartlaunch in News and trends,
Esports are a joke, playing video games is a waste of time, and these kids need to lay off the Doritos and go outside.
Archaic views like this aren’t uncommon, but they didn’t hold much weight when the student-athletes from Université Laval threw off their headsets to hug and celebrate as confetti fluttered down around them. It was a fitting moment of validation for a group of players that had put their all into becoming the best collegiate Heroes of the Storm team in the world, all while holding down jobs, earning degrees and, perhaps unknowingly, paving the way for generations of collegiate esports players to come.
When collegiate esport organizer Tespa partnered with Blizzard in 2013, it was a foray into the unknown. For a time there were only small tournaments as Tespa picked up steam on campuses across the country. The breakout moment came in 2015 when the first Heroes of the Dorm tournament was played for over $450,000 in prizes, even being broadcast on ESPN. Three years later, Tespa’s sibling co-founders Tyler and Adam Rosen are still infectiously passionate about what they feel Tespa can bring to collegiate esports.
Tespa is not only involved in developing and running the massive collegiate tournaments they’ve become known for, but also for providing a framework for building communities that double as committed fans. For Tespa, it’s about trying to create a place that gamers in college can call home, but also giving those campus communities a payoff in the form of large-scale events that can be truly life-changing.
Organization and structure is just one part of the collegiate esports equation, though. It would be worthless without the players themselves and even with Tespa’s support they face a unique set of challenges all their own. As much as popular media would like you to think otherwise, these esports players aren’t one-trick ponies. They’ve got schooling, jobs, and semi-professional gaming to juggle all at once.
For supposedly being places of higher learning that champion freedom of thought, it feels backward that most universities are so begrudgingly defiant to adopt esports players into their varsity ranks. But this fact only highlights why Tespa has become a crucial tool and advocate for collegiate esports players. These players know that they’ll have to fight for every inch of ground they gain, whether that’s in-game or in real life.
An important consideration is that, similar to many NCAA athletes, most of these players don’t have a shot at going pro, so their studies truly matter just as much as their gameplay. The future success of Tespa, and collegiate esports as a whole, hinges on organizations like Tespa providing a community building tools that augment and add to what should be some of the most enriching years of these players’ young lives, not taking them over entirely.
Regardless of the challenges players, Tespa, and even Blizzard face, there’s a shared sense of optimism that’s palpable at an event like Heroes of the Dorm. It’s a moment that feels like it can shed the skin of Heroes of the Storm’s lukewarm popularity and issues like the players’ struggle for validation, instead refocusing on what makes esports a phenomenon in its own right. It’s the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, and overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles, all set against a backdrop of college rivalries and cheering fans.
Whether members are the elite players at their school or casual players that utilize Tespa’s services to forge friendships through gaming, there’s a seat at the table for everyone. It’s up to the students to build a solid foundation on campus, and it’s Tepa’s job to showcase these gamers to the world. It’s daunting to take on stale, outdated stereotypes while simultaneously building an esports future that college students can embrace openly — but if both parties remain committed, collegiate esports is only going to keep growing.
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