By Ana Carolina Aguiar
Last fall, Barry University launched an esports program, joining a growing group of programs at colleges and universities across the nation. Esports, or competitive computer gaming, was installed as Barry’s 13th sport.
Barry's esports program is now a member of the 125-school National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE), which includes both varsity and non-varsity sports from junior colleges to the highest level in the NCAA.
Games sponsored by NACE for esports include: “League of Legends,” “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” and “Starcraft II.”
The Barry esports arena is located in Library 301 and is filled with state-of-the-art equipment and managed by an esports team. The arena was created with a one-time capital investment of $206,700.
The team will compete against other colleges and universities, but you don’t have to be a gaming expert to join. Any student who has interest in learning gaming skills and practicing is welcome.
Whether you’re joining esports for fun or taking it seriously, Barry offers a degree program in computer information sciences (CIS) with digital media that may interest esports student-athletes. The stimulating program offers courses in video game design, virtual reality, 3D modeling and others.
Ricardo Jimenez, chair of the mathematics and computer science department, explained how the program got its start.
“Recognizing the need for computer science professionals in the video game industry, the department began creating courses in video game design and development a couple of years ago,” said Dr. Jimenez.
The nature of gaming is complex, and the department is aiming to create “a path for those who want to work in what is now a $150 billion dollar industry,” he said.
Dr. Jimenez told The Buccaneer that the department is now excited and eager to work with the esports athletes to move toward that end.
With the program came Esports Coach Lance Hotchkiss who has coached a college esports team before.
“I have years of experience organizing teams and coaching both teams and individuals,” said Coach Hotchkiss. “I’m looking to make Barry a strong contender in esports in South Florida.”
Hotchkiss says that esports is actually as demanding as traditional sports.
“It is much the same as any other sport, with practice times, pre and post-match coaching, drills, and tournaments,” he said.
When it comes to fanbase, Hotchkiss says esports is as popular as other sports.
“Because of how common gaming has become, esports has created a super dedicated fanbase,” said Hotchkiss. "[It has attained] viewership numbers exceeding most traditional sports.”
According to Hotchkiss, in 2018, the League of Legends World Finals received close to 100 million views—the same as the NFL Super Bowl.
With the growing demand for esports, Hotchkiss says the team is looking for more students to join at Barry.
“There are scholarship opportunities available," said Hotchkiss. “If you think you’ve got what it takes, swing by Library 301 to get your tryout started!”
Terrence Chan, a senior in computer information sciences (CIS) is the esports team captain.
He told The Buccaneer that he decided to join since he already liked gaming and it was even more for him to do it while attending school.
“If you look at it now, the gaming industry has grown so much… if you look in the U.S. alone, there’s 150 colleges partaking in esports, so I think it is a good thing for Barry to get into,” he said. “It can also be a way to recruit more players, better players get some recognition for the school.”
When it comes to training, Chan explains that nationally it becomes more demanding.
“But I still think that the players have fun playing, because it is a game that they like to play,” he said.