Members of Kennesaw State’s competitive video gaming club, eSports, say they plan to expand and connect with more players on the Marietta campus in the wake of Georgia State University’s offer to award scholarships to eSports players.
GSU is now offering $1,000 scholarships to the top ten students to make it onto one of their two new varsity eSports teams, according to 11Alive. Cecilia Nguyen, the president of Kennesaw eSports, said the new scholarships are a huge step forward for eSports in Georgia, and she believes competitive gaming will continue to grow rapidly.
“I think that eSports will definitely become more mainstream in the future,” Nguyen said. “As of right now, I think that people are having a hard time accepting it as a career because they just see it as playing video games. People will come to change their minds in the future once those big tournaments expand from just streaming online.”
While Kennesaw eSports is still a new organization, Nguyen and director Jonathan Higgins have already established relationships with the eSports teams at the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech and GSU. All four teams are members of the Georgia eSports League.
Nguyen wants to continue to expand and work on improving KSU’s team until it is comparable to that of GT, one of the top schools in the world for competitive gaming.
One of the first goals Nguyen plans to work toward is bringing the student gamers on the Marietta campus and the Kennesaw campus together.
“I know there are a lot of students on the Marietta campus that do not know that our club exists,” Nguyen said. “I want to be able to make events and tournaments available to our students on that campus and bring together our community as a family.”
Nguyen is also currently working to establish partnerships and sponsorships so they can hold more events for members to enjoy and offer prizes for their tournaments.
Nguyen and Higgins both believe that their organization and eSports have the potential to gain much more popularity in the future. Higgins said that an eSports event he attended in 2014 felt exactly like he was watching a live sporting event. He enjoyed the experience but believes eSports may never become as popular as athletic sports.
For those not familiar with eSports or how it works, Nguyen recommends they watch live streams of tournaments on Twitch, a live-streaming video platform popular with competitive gamers.
Viewers can watch individuals who stream themselves playing games, as well as large companies that stream events and tournaments.
Atlanta currently holds several conventions and tournaments for eSports teams throughout the year and has different broadcasting stations, such as Turner Broadcasting Studio and ELEAGUE, which host gaming tournaments, making the city a more popular spot for eSports leagues and events.
Kennesaw eSports currently has more than 400 members and hosts three game nights every month. They also host a different tournament every month to give students a chance to compete.
“I love this community because they’re like family to me,” Nguyen said. “The great thing about video games is that it brings people together and anyone can play.”