AUSTIN, Texas — Coincidentally a few days after a Pennsylvania teen won $3 million playing the popular video game Fortnite, a university here in Central Texas is also getting pretty serious about gaming.
Tucked away in the hills of northwest Austin you'll find Concordia University Texas, a privately held liberal arts university affiliated with The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. While they offer typical degree programs like nursing and education, and sports offerings like baseball, basketball and tennis, another program is catching the eyes of gamers across the nation.
The university has just finished building its very first varsity esports arena, which is complete with 12 professional-level gaming stations and audio-visual production equipment. It was unveiled on Tuesday.
Starting in August, Concordia students will begin competing as the first varsity esports program of its kind in the area. The Austin campus now joins more than 100 colleges and universities across the U.S. and Canada to offer esports teams.
“Our high-tech arena provides the same environment that esports professionals use out in the field, giving our esports players real-world experience while they’re still in college,” explains Marc Valdoria, a Concordia graduate who will coordinate and lead the new teams.
The gaming stations in the new arena will have high-level hardware and peripherals, including 240-hertz monitors that deliver about four times the display quality of home televisions. This software-driven, integrated audio-visual production system matches what you might see being used by ESPN, MTV, the New York Giants and Twitch.
“As part of an extensive University strategic plan, esports was identified as a viable, exciting and strong addition to an already robust student life menu. The decision to join in National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) competition is one that makes sense for us,” said Dr. Kristi Kirk, provost and executive vice president. “It enhances our student life programming, provides a new competitive outlet for our students, complements our academic learning outcomes, provides a new opportunity for partnerships in our community and ultimately helps us fulfill our vision of providing life-changing experiences for our students.”
“Experts identify gaming as an excellent way for collegians to build skills and aptitude in programming and non-cognitive skills,” said Dr. Don Christian, president and CEO.
Concordia will join the competitive gaming arena by sponsoring teams in the popular online games League of Legends and Overwatch.
Valdoria has helped to recruit a team of freshman and transfer-student epsorts athletes from multiple states and across academic majors like business, psychology and art. The university offered these students a combination of merit-based and esports scholarships.
“The participants on our esports teams will meet the same standards and eligibility requirements as all of our athletes involved in our 15 NCAA intercollegiate sports,” said Ronda Seagraves, director of athletics. “Concordia has identified an area in which today’s students are seeking a competitive outlet and one which has exploded among universities nationwide. The excitement around this addition has been amazing and I look forward to watching it continue to grow."
For more information on the esports program at Concorida, click here.
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