Esports Growing on College Campuses

A look in at eSports on the University of Alaska Fairbanks Campus
Published: Apr. 28, 2023 at 5:39 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Esports is catching fire, and many schools are hopping on board, with 175 colleges joining the National Association of Collegiate Esports and more than 30 offering scholarships for gamers. It allows college students to find a potential niche or place they can enjoy themselves in a crazy time in their lives.

Video games can be played by anyone and everybody. There are no requirements for skill or knowledge. Everyone can play either on a computer or with a console. Drake Richards, UAF Esports coordinator, said, “Yeah absolutely, I think in general the space is very inclusive for the students, and they’ll happily play with people regardless of your skill level, regardless of your experience.” He also said, “If you’ve never played a PC game before, or if you’ve played PC games a lot, there’s definitely a place here, and what I try to do with the team is when we are able, I try to accept as many students as I can.”

The community of UAF has completely adopted the center, with students of all walks of life coming in to enjoy being able to game with their friends, random people, or even learning from those on the UAF Esports teams. Brighton Higbee, the Captain of Rocket League Blue Team UAF, said, “Oh I think it’s super cool. I’ll sometimes come by to play Mario Kart or just hop on the PC’s, play Rocket League, play Valorant, any other games, and you get all people, just normal students, people that play for the other eSports teams.” He also said, “You get to see different levels of play, it’s just fun to sit and watch sometimes too.”

The Alaska Esports Center is located in the Wood Center Student Union Building and is open at the same time. The Wood Center is open for students, giving them plenty of time to enjoy what the facility has to offer. Richards said, “I think being able to open up the center not just for our competitive teams, but our whole student body, is something that really gets unappreciated in other institutions, and I love that we have that here.” He also said, “Because there’s so much more to gaming than the competitive side of things, and there’s so much our students enjoy than just competing. So having a social space for the students, having a space to hang out, play games, and have a good time. We can run student events all the time here, because you know it’s more than just the competition.”