By Corbin Adams
NAIT is doubling-down on eSports this year following the success of last year’s eSports Invitational.
The League of Legends Tournament took place on October 26. Overwatch and DOTA 2 events will take place in November. NAIT Campus Recreation wants to serve a different and growing student population on campus with eSports and “non-traditional recreation programming.”
Over the last decade, eSports’ popularity has increased globally with around 380 million viewers in 2018. Thanks to online broadcast platforms like Twitch, Youtube and Mixer, the community behind this new type of sport has been growing at a fast pace.
Curtis Dell, the Student Recreation Coordinator for NAIT’s Campus Recreation Services caught wind of this community last year when he put together the first set of eSport tournaments on campus back in spring 2019.
For their first event in March, Campus Recreation hosted a three-title tournament that had nearly 100 participants. Most of the participants were NAIT students. Campus Recreation called the event a success.
“It’s an unbelievable community of people that eSports and gaming brings together,” said Dell.
“Just having that opportunity to see that, witness that firsthand, and be able to create a community and space for that community to exist and connect was important to us.”
According to NAIT’s IT department, there has been an increase of students playing these games on campus whether they’re gaming in the computer commons or in campus clubs.
The Entertainment Software Association of Canada’s 2019 Essential Facts Report stated that 61% of Canadians define themselves as a ‘gamer.’ Dell explained that he doesn’t think eSports or games as a whole are limited to a certain group or population. Data on the types of students who play these games at NAIT is still being gathered.
When it comes to the future of the eSports community here at NAIT, Dell said that whether it’s about creating an opportunity to play games casually or catering to this more competitive side like with tournaments, they will support both.
“We’re trying to keep our feet on both sides of the water with that and then be able to support the holistic success of whatever that looks like.”
Campus Recreation will also rely on feedback from the community to gauge how to grow the eSports community at NAIT.