Glen Oaks Community College is entering the increasingly popular arena of esports – which is now sanctioned as a sport by the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association). Last evening two Viking esport athletes both won their matches.
“Esports is short for electronic sports,” said Kevin Conner, professor of information technology and coach for the new Viking Esports team. “We are officially listed as an NJCAA team. So far 11 students have expressed an interest in participating. Depending on the game title, the matches may involve one person or up to a team of five persons.”
Currently, there are 211 NJCAA community college esports teams competing nationally with only a handful of Michigan community colleges that are on board – Alpena, Gogebic, and Mott Community Colleges and Jackson College.
“We had our first matches and first wins, last night,” said Conner. “Both esport Viking athletes Thomas Tissue, and Donavon Blum, both of Centreville, won their first Smash Brothers Ultimate matches against Onondaga Community College, New York.
For now, Glen Oaks is running the matches as though they were an intermural sport, but that will soon change as the teams get a better feel for how the matches work and as the competitions progress.
Some of the game titles are Smash Brothers, Call of Duty, Overwatch, FIFA, Rocket League, Mario Kart, and many more. Students can participate in gaming competitions from campus or from the comfort of their homes. “Most of the matches are synchronous, timed, and are live-streamed using Twitch and YouTube so that anyone can view them,” said Conner.
The college has seen a growing interest in gaming in general in recent years as students have been gathering for Gaming Club activities. “It’s fun to see gaming bring kids together,” said Conner. “Esports is a way for students to solve challenges while working together as a team.”