Esports gaming community growing rapidly at Eastern Michigan University as students show strong interest in matching skills while playing popular games such as League of Legends and Fortnite

Esports stock image

YPSILANTI – Esports, which has exploded in participation around the country and which pays a major visit to Eastern Michigan University each year, is sparking interest among a growing community of gamers around the EMU campus.  

The University currently has four competitive teams, with plans to add more as interest continues to increase. Community engagement events this year have included a Halloween Smash Tournament, a Pokemon Day and a Retro Game Night, creating a buzz among present and potential students. EMU teams have already won several tournaments, competing against schools such as Michigan State. 

EMU students Charles Spencer and Zachery Farrow joined Calvin Phillips, associate vice president for student affairs, in outlining the growth of competitive gaming at Eastern in a presentation Feb. 12 to the Student Affairs Committee of the EMU Board of Regents. 

Eastern students can act as gaming mentors

The popularity of gaming presents opportunities for EMU students to train, present and interact with a diverse pool of middle and high school learners around the area, including the possibility of camps and student internships.

Esports is competitive video gaming, where people compete to play video games for prizes. Popular games include League of Legends, Overwatch, and Fortnite.

The sport is exploding in popularity; for example, 200 million viewers watched the League of Legends World Championships in 2018, more than the Super Bowl and NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four combined. The National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) has 120 members, and in 2018 $15 million in Esports scholarships were given out, according to Wired.com magazine.

“Gamers for Giving” event at EMU draws great interest

EMU has been a prominent spot on the gamers’ map in recent years, with the holding of the Annual “Gamers for Giving” event annually at the Convocation Center. Last year, the event raised more than $600,000 for charity.

The founder of Gamers for Giving, EMU graduate Zach Wigal, raised more than $1.6 million for charity in 2018, allowing the organization to help children play video games in hospitals, an activity that helps ease the challenge and isolation of difficult hospital stays associated with severe illness. 

The EMU Esports group is currently collaborating with a wide variety of campus groups and departments, including Information Technology, Rec/IM, Student Affairs, Resident Life, EMU Engage, Communication and Theatre Arts, the EMU Smash Club and Athletics.

The group is based in the lower level of Halle Library, with 24 computers now being set up by EMU IT in a spot open for public and competitive use. Lenovo, a multinational technology company based in China, offered EMU a significant discount on its first purchase of gaming PCs, and is interested in an ongoing case study about the development of Esports on campus.

In Fall 2020, when the Rec/IM renovation is complete, the building will also house several computers for recreational and intramural gaming.

About Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves nearly 18,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and, its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website.

February 13, 2020

Written by:
Geoff Larcom

Contact:
Geoff Larcom
glarcom@emich.edu
734-417-9658