Interview

Gogebic Catches the Esports Bug

Esports is contagious. Sure, there are going to be people that don’t “get it” or simply aren’t interested in the idea of spectating competitive gaming; but, as the industry grows and more eyes become introduced to the spectacle, it has a tendency to spread like wildfire. IT Instructor Jim Halverson at Gogebic Community College in Ironwood, Michigan has been able to witness firsthand just how quickly esports excitement can take hold of a school.

“It's hard to believe that all this happened in only a few months.” - Halverson

So what’s happened at Gogebic? The administration has supported plans to bring esports to the student body, not just in their support of a competitive team, but in designating a space for spectators.

“A seldom used lecture hall was designated as the perfect space for the home of the Gogebic Samsons eSports team as it will support our eSports program as a spectator sport. High-end Dell Alienware gaming computers were purchased and setup in a "Gaming Arena" format for the team to use during competitions and practices. The Arena is currently being updated to include special lighting and graphics to make this a great space for players and spectators to enjoy esports.” - Halverson

Looking at the former lecture hall, it all just seems to click. It doesn’t take much to turn a space like this into a place where the community can back their team and cheer on the players. It makes you imagine how many seldom used classrooms are just waiting to become an esports “arena”. So, how did this all get started?

“A colleague of mine attended a professional conference in October and talked with someone from another college that has an esports team. When she returned she asked me if I have ever looked into starting such a team at Gogebic.  I heard about the Collegiate Starleague a few years ago when CSL was much smaller with only a few colleges participating. When I looked into CSL again I saw it had matured into a great opportunity of Gogebic students to participate in esports.  I reached out to our students to see if there was any interest in starting a team and I received a lot of positive interest from our students. I approached the college administration with the idea and they were very supportive. I developed a budget and presented the plan to the GCC Board of Trustees who were very supportive as well.” - Halverson

At every step, Halverson has been met with optimism and support. Years ago, these initiatives would have been a fight, a struggle, a battle for any kind of recognition. Now, they’re simply a no-brainer for schools wanting to foster their communities.

Currently, Gogebic is looking to support a team for Division 2 League of Legends, Rocket League, and Division 1 and 2 for CS:GO. The hope is that the program can be used as a recruitment tool. The renovated classroom turned arena is immediately intriguing and exciting to many students; and spectating, not just competing, seems to be an interest.

The hype is contagious and getting programs up and running seems to be getting easier and easier. Gogebic is a clear example that esports is quickly becoming mainstream; and if your community college hasn’t caught the fever, maybe it’s time to introduce it.

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