SILOAM SPRINGS, Ark. — Colleges are using esports to increase enrollment. Many colleges even offer scholarships for students who game, including John Brown University.
Camry Hawkins is one of those students.
“I know for me it was super helpful,” said Hawkins. “When I was talking with my admissions councilor and we were trying to coordinate finances, I was like, ‘If there is any other opportunities,’ and he was like ‘Well do you play games?’ and I’m like, ‘I do!'”
Throughout the years, esports has continued to grow. JBU has had its competitive esports team for three years.
“Now you have the opportunity to play against other schools and actually do a really good job on something they never had the opportunity to do before,” said Hawkins.
The JBU esports varsity team plays seven different titles or games. Its arena has 20 high-powered computers.
Jonny Bontrager, another student is a part of the JBU esports varsity team, says it’s not that much different from regular sports.
“It’s very similar on being on a sports team,” said Bontrager. “I played soccer throughout high school. The leadership, capabilities a team leader needs and just team chemistry and how the team works together is very similar to sports.”
The main difference between esports and regular sports is esports is all virtual.
Bontrager also says video games have a lot more complexity than other sports.
“You need to be good at controlling your character, knowing the game, knowing timing, knowing the pace of the game,” said Bontrager.
The new arena also gives other students a chance to see gaming up close.
“People come and watch, and we leave the doors open. And students come in and cheer, and it’s super fun to have an area that people get to actually see what we do,” said Hawkins.
Hawkins says esports puts smaller universities on the radar and gives students who may not be athletic a chance to feel part of a team.