TWU to expand esports

Jan. 28, 2021 — DENTON — If the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s proven that online options are here to stay, so it’s no surprise that universities like Texas Woman’s are considering more creative ways to engage students in a virtual world, including esports. 

Competitive multiplayer video gaming, known as esports, has exploded in recent years, and according to Michelle Kelly-Reeves, director of TWU’s Health and Wellbeing Initiative, the broader effort to encourage esports at TWU includes a multifaceted approach. 

“We want our students to have opportunities to play, but we also want them to know that there is a wider range of professional opportunities. Like any other professional sport, there is also a business side,” she said. 

While the industry is currently dominated by men, a 2019 study from data firm Interpret found that women comprise 30 percent of esports viewership and 35 percent of esports gamers, and those numbers are growing. In 2020 the global esports market was valued at just over $950 million and is expected to grow rapidly, reaching $1.6 billion by 2023. But unlike other professional sports including soccer and basketball, esports teams can be mixed-gendered.

“There is a unique opportunity for women to excel in esports, and our goal is to ensure that TWU students are prepared to participate and succeed in this exciting and potentially lucrative industry,” said Kelly-Reeves. 

When TWU’s Fit & Rec staff were asked to explore esport options, they looked locally and found a wealth of knowledge, information and insight, particularly with the Dallas Mavericks and its Mavs Gaming esports team. 

The NBA held a draft in 2018 for its new esports league, NBA 2K, and 102 professional gamers were drafted. Since then the league has expanded to 23 teams, 22 of which are affiliated with NBA teams, including the Dallas Mavericks. 

In partnership with TWU Fit & Rec and Career Connection, Mavs Gaming will host a college esports seminar on Saturday, February 6 from 10 a.m. until noon (CST). Professional gamers and business professionals will talk about how they got there and the gaming business. Only five universities have been invited to participate, including Texas Woman’s. The seminar is free, but registration is required.

“The seminar is a great way for TWU students to hear from industry experts about esports. We hope that students will recognize the potential and will want to participate more with our TWU efforts as well,” said Kelly-Reeves.

In addition to providing access to seminars and connections with Mavs Gaming, Fit & Rec supports the Smash Brothers Alliance student organization and plans to renovate one of its studios to create a gaming lounge. 

Initial designs for the lounge will include 10-12 PCs, other consoles and large screen televisions. Renovations are slated to be completed by Fall 2021. Eventually, TWU hopes to garner enough interest to field a competitive esports team that would compete in tournaments with other universities. 

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Page last updated 1:44 PM, January 28, 2021