West Virginia Wesleyan College’s eSports program was formally announced in the Fall of 2018. Wesleyan is the first school in the state of West Virginia to offer eSports at a varsity level with athletic scholarships established for prospective recruits, and the second school nationwide to formally outline scholarships for the battle royale title Fortnite. The school will join in collegiate competition as a member of NACE (National Association of Collegiate eSports), AVGL (American Video Game League), and CSL (Collegiate Starleague).
Wesleyan is currently in the process of fielding students to compete in various eSport titles, with a focus on League of Legends, Smash Bros., and Fortnite in its inaugural year. Students joining our eSports roster Wesleyan’s eSports program is comparable to a collegiate varsity sports team, and students fielded for this team will be treated as student athletes similar to what exists within traditional athletics programs at Wesleyan.
What are eSports?
eSports is best defined as a form of sports where the primary aspects of the sport occur digitally, through video games and the devices that enable the interactions to do so. The input of players and teams, as well as the outputs within an eSport, occur primarily through a digital platform. Recent research suggests that eSports competition exhibits characteristics similar to those of traditional sports, with heavy emphasis on hand-eye coordination, fine-tuned muscle control and form, and physiological responses that mirror those occurring in traditional sports.
Common video game genres associated with eSports are real-time strategy, fighting, first-person shooter (FPS), battle royale, and multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA). At a professional level, competition is coordinated and regulated by varying leagues, organizations, and governing bodies. An eSports athlete will typically represent a sporting organization or receive sponsorships from established companies within the domain.
eSports are becoming exceedingly popular on college campuses, mirroring growth occurring independent of collegiate institutions. In 2014, the first varsity eSports team was formed at a collegiate institution. The growth since 2014 has been exponential, with an estimated 60 institutions having offered scholarships in eSports in the Fall of 2017. The National Association of Collegiate Esports, the governing body of eSports at the varsity level, has 73 member institutions which Wesleyan will join as part of competition in the 2019-2020 year.