NATCHITOCHES, La. (NSU) – The world of video games and esports is moving at a blistering pace across the country. The same can be said for the newly launched Northwestern State University Esports program offering students of all skill levels the chance to play and compete in some of the most popular games in the country.
At its core, esports is the world of organized, competitive games. Players from around the world compete in various leagues, on teams or individually, and face off against one another. Games like Fortnite, Call of Duty, Overwatch and Madden are played in front of millions of fans in both live events and through online streaming services like Twitch.
The industry has exploded over the past several years, and NSU has taken the lead in esports in the state with its new state-of-the-art facility.
Located inside the Friedman Student Union in the former campus bookstore, the NSU Esports arena is home to one of the largest gaming experiences in the state. The 3,500 square-foot lounge holds 24 fully-equipped computers, multiple consoles and plenty of room for students to dive headfirst into a wide array of gaming worlds. The space is designed with the students in mind and made for both competitive and recreational gaming.
Chance Creppel, coordinator of competitive sports and long-time gamer, heads up the competitive side of the program, coordinating competitions for the NSU teams and the tournaments that will be held on campus in the near future.
“We’re giving these players a platform to play these games at a competitive level and earn scholarships in the process,” Creppel said. “To say you are playing a game you love for a varsity club team and earning a scholarship is something that the students will always remember.”
NSU is one of the newest members of the National Association of College Esports, a nonprofit association that has awarded $15 million in scholarships and aid since its formation in July 2016. With the new facility and ever-growing interest from students, NSU stands to be a contender in tournaments right away.
“Competitive esports is what the students make of it, and that’s the most exciting part,” Creppel said. “We have top-of-the-line equipment for them, and the space to practice. The top players dedicate a lot of their free time to practicing their respective games. Some come in and play with their teammates, while some practice on their own. It all depends on what they are trying to improve on.”
Nathanial Rachal, or Hollow as he’s known in the gaming world, a music education major from Lafayette, is one of the first members of NSU Esports’ competitive teams. He plays Rocket League, one of the 11 games currently available for students to play on a competitive level.
The creation of the esports program provided the perfect avenue for him to take his love for the game to a different level.