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Are you a n00b?: DSU introduces esports

Sumin Yang, DSU student, uses one of the gaming computers in the Perch. Kayla Henson / Forum News Service

Remember going to the arcade with your friends? Remember trying to beat the high score on the machine? Esports is this generation's arcade competition — played on personal computers.

Dickinson State University is considering adopting an esports program. They're still early in the process of gathering information on interest, primarily.

"Esports is a rapidly growing interest among college-age students," said Marie Moe, Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs at DSU. "We are in early conversations about how DSU might support interest in this field. We have worked with Sodexo to have four competitive e-gaming stations added to the Perch dining commons. We are receiving positive feedback on this addition."

DSU also posted a survey on their Facebook page asking current and prospective students if they would be interested in playing esports on a college team, if they had researched it in the past, how much time they spend on gaming per week and other questions to gauge interest.

In the coming months, they will use survey responses and student feedback to determine how to proceed, Moe said.

Student Sumin Yang plays Overwatch, a popular first-person fighting game, and was already using one of the school's four gaming computers. Other students, such as Aleksandra Voitcekhovskaia, had never heard of esports before.

If DSU moves forward with the program, they would be only the second university in the state to do so, after the University of Jamestown.

Joshua Knutson is the head coach for the University of Jamestown's esports team, which was founded in Oct. 2016, just months after the esports governing organization, National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE), was created.

"We're in this to legitimize esports and bring it into the same vein as collegiate football or basketball or baseball," he said. "It's growing exponentially every single day, and it's not slowing down any time soon."

Jamestown's players are dedicated to specific games — Overwatch, League of Legends, Hearthstone, or in the near future, Fortnite.

The team meets Monday through Friday from 6 to 8 p.m. in their renovated media center complete with 24 high-end PCs and equipment where they practice and play against 103 other varsity teams throughout the U.S. and Canada. They stream their practices and games on Twitch.

"We have film sessions. We're scouting opponents and building game plans, just like every other sport," Knutson said. "It's very similar to traditional athletics. The big difference is instead of a ball or football or bat and glove for baseball ... we have a mouse and keyboard."

Victoria Horsley, the new marketing director of NACE, sees esports as comparable to traditional sports.

"(Esports) is like any other sport — football, basketball, anything like that — except on a computer," she said. "It takes mental ability more than physical ability sometimes, but it is definitely still an active sport that a lot of people are starting to get into."

Esports Charts, which provides analytical service relating to esports, lists the worldwide viewership of the 2017 League of Legends World Tournament at over 106 million people. Riot, the game's publisher, lists a more conservative estimate: 80 million. At either estimate, based on Nielsen data, it's more than the viewership of the NBA's 2017 final championship game (24.5 million) and less than the viewership of the 2017 Superbowl (111.3 million).

(For Sidebar)

Esports terms to know:

n00b (n): slang term for a new or inexperienced player

OP (adj) — An abbreviation of "overpowered."

EXP/XP (n): experience points

Rekt/Owned/Pwned (v): If you're one of these, you're losing badly.

Nerf (v): to reduce the power level of an ingame mechanic for balance purposes

Buff (v): increasing power level of an ingame mechanic for balance purposes

Balance (n): level of fairness of the game

Streaming (v): To broadcast oneself gaming

Streamer (n) : Someone who streams themselves playing video games

Twitch (n) : The biggest platform for video game streaming. It hosts esports tournaments live, and gamers can create their own Twitch channel for their streaming their games.

Caster (n): a commentator

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