Lambton College opens Esports ‘arena,’ plans two-year course

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Tryouts for Lambton College’s new Esports team are underway in the school’s just-opened electronic gaming arena.

“It’s awesome,” Kyle McVittie, president of the college student council, said during Thursday’s opening of the facility.

Esports, essentially, is competitive video-game playing, often in front of spectators. There were 100 applicants for spots on the Lambton Lions Esports team and they quickly filled the 20-screen room that’s taken over some of the student council’s space at the college.

The room, or Esports “arena,” cost Lambton College about $150,000 and they’re one of the few colleges to have such a space. Other schools generally use computer labs as gaming spots.

“I wish I had this (as a student),” said Kevin Hoang, an account manager with the Los Angeles-based gaming company Twitch who attended the opening.

As a top gaming competitor during his recent university years, he and fellow gamers were banned from the university library.

But the days when gamers were seen as a nuisance have quickly vanished.

“It’s a global multi-billion-dollar business . . . fast-paced, ever-growing,” said Donna Church, Lambton’s academic vice-president.

That prompted the college to plan the arena and a two-year Esports management program that will begin in next fall. Students will develop the business acumen to organize Esports tournaments and manage Esports professionals.

The college’s gaming arena and program are on the cutting edge, said Charlie Watson, owner of SetToDestroyX, which handles professional gamers, organizes tournaments and provides gaming consulting services.

It was a learning process for college administrators but they quickly saw the trend and the value of a program.

“It was a significant effort that came together quickly,” said Rob Kardas, college vice-president of student success and campus services.

The effort began in January with a team effort that included the student council.

The effort has brought the real world into the college, Church said, saying employers as already seeking student interns from the gaming program.


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