A variety of stakeholders in Indianapolis gathered in the Informatics & Communications Technology Complex at IUPUI for a panel to discuss the exponential growth of eSports throughout the nation and how IUPUI and the city of Indianapolis can be at the forefront of that growth.
Universities have taken notice of the expanding realm of eSports. As of now, 62 colleges have varsity eSports programs, which doesn’t seem like a lot. However, the first varsity collegiate eSports program was started in 2014 when Robert Morris University in Illinois announced the first scholarship-funded League of Legends team.
Kelley Ford, Director of Administration at the Horizon League, discussed the importance of fully engaging in the eSports trend.
“When you’re a smaller conference in the college space, it’s huge to stay ahead of the curve and be innovative in any way possible,” said Ford. “The Horizon League currently sponsors 19 championships, and we’re hoping eSports can be our 20th.”
Other stakeholders presenting at the event included:
- Rick and Cara Barretto, co-founders of Game On, which is a world-class eSports and educational facility located inside the Pacers Athletic Center at Grand Park in Westfield
- Zack Johnson, founder of GG Circuit, which is a software suite allowing gamers from all over the world to track how they compete with one another
- Wesley Zirkle from Keller Macaluso LLC
Barretto discussed how eSports has impacted Indianapolis and explained that Game On is the “only eSports facility that is inside a sports facility right now on the planet.”
Johnson discussed the growth opportunities and innovative thought process that can help push college eSports in a new direction. Zirkle touched on how eSports can be central to Indianapolis based on the belief that Indianapolis is the destination sports town in America.
“I don’t think it’s up for debate,” said Zirkle. “We are the best sports town in America.”
What are eSports?
ESports are multiplayer video games played competitively for spectators, typically by professional gamers. Some of the most popular games include Call of Duty, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2, Rocket League, NBA 2K, and last but not least, League of Legends (just to name a few).
League of Legends (LOL) is a team-based strategy game that is free to play. Due to its easy accessibility, Riot Games (the developers of LOL) estimated that 67 million people play the game every month in 2014.
How is IUPUI involved in eSports?
A student organized group on campus by the name of Gamer’s Hall has successfully marketed and solicited its own prize pool for the IUPUI League of Legends High School Invitational.
Founder of Gamer’s Hall, and IUPUI eSports visionary, Noah Pumphrey, has been working closely with Zebulun Wood, Director of Media Arts and Sciences and the Faculty Advisor for Gamer’s Hall, to advance the growth of this sport in the college atmosphere.
“The students that compete in eSports are our best students,” said Wood, when discussing how the IUPUI School of Informatics has embraced eSports and is seen as an innovator in Indianapolis.
The group developed the IUPUI League of Legends High School Invitational and competition in the tournament got underway on February 4. Now, six teams remain to compete on Championship Sunday, April 15. The prize pool is $10,000 in scholarship money for the high school students competing from Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, and Florida.
We invite anyone interested to come out and show your support for what Gamer’s Hall has done IUPUI in the form of innovative thinking and hard work this weekend.
IUPUI LEAGUE OF LEGENDS HIGH SCHOOL INVITATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP SUNDAY
When: Sunday, April 15
Time: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. (championship set to start around 6 p.m.)
Admission: FREE OF CHARGE
Where: The IU Natatorium (901 West New York Street, Indianapolis, IN 46202)
However, if you cannot attend, it will be streamed live: https://www.twitch.tv/esportsiupui
And you can stay up to date on twitter by following @IUPUIGamersHall or by using the Hashtags: #LOLHSI #Indy #IUPUI