Competitive video gaming as a college class? How about an NCAA sanctioned sport?
Waynesburg University is banking on the future of esports with the recent development of an Esports Arena at Buhl Hall on its campus.
Funded by an anonymous in-kind donation of $400,000, the arena opened this semester and will host the university’s esports program beginning next school year.
Waynesburg athletic director Adam Jack said he researched esports and attended conferences and presentations to fully understand the emerging trend.
“What I discovered was a huge industry that was growing and thriving in high schools as well as higher education,” Jack said. “A colleague of mine had attended a session at the NCAA conference and explained that many schools are looking at esports as a complement to their athletic department and/or office of student life.”
Trinity Area High School is one of the first high schools in the region to integrate esports into its curriculum, piloting introductory esports classes in the 2021-22 school year. The school has installed a state-of-the-art futuristic classroom equipped with the latest computers, gaming software, lighting, cameras, video game cards and streaming software to provide students with an authentic and hands-on learning and gaming experience.
Officials said Waynesburg University’s Esports Arena is one of the largest in the region, with 25 stations, each equipped with an Alienware computer, monitor, mouse, and hardware. a keyboard, as well as an adjustable standing desk. Bose noise canceling headphones are also available for gamers.
The space is also equipped with an Optoma projector and a separate viewing room. The arena and viewing room are separated by a 4 foot by 8 foot SmartGlass window.
Jack said the university hopes to develop academic programs in the esports industry and use the arena as a recruiting tool for students.
“The sky is the limit for this industry, and we hope to grow our undergraduate enrollment with student-athletes competing in esports,” Jack said. “It’s only a matter of time before esports is in every college and university across the country. I believe that the NCAA will sponsor esports in the future and we will be able to play a leading role in the growth of this emerging sport.
To align with the Christian University’s mission, Jack said they would initially be looking to recruit students to play the “Overwatch”, “Rocket League” and “League of Legends” games.
“We are very fortunate that this donor saw an opportunity to impact Waynesburg University in a new area, putting us at the forefront of colleges and universities offering esports,” he said. .