HOUSTON - At a time when colleges and universities are struggling with how to 'safely' let students get together, Lone Star College college is starting the semester with a unique opportunity. Along with virtual classes, students will soon be competing in a massive online gaming tournament and it's just the start of where the school says the future is heading.
If you don't play video games, you'll be forgiven for not knowing that eSports is a 'thing'. A tournament, last summer, ended in a stadium, the top 100 players battling it out on the online game, Fortnite, where the 16-year-old winner collected a $3 million dollar payday.
Lone Star Student John Stubbings is not expecting that kind of outcome. The political science student is registering for the online gaming tournament, sponsored by the school, that will offer five games, with $10,000 in prize money, for each one.
Like anyone who's grabbed a game controller, logged-on, and competed against a computer or friends, Stubbings says it provides a personal-connection that the pandemic has challenged.
"It's about coordination, teamwork, hanging out with friends, having a fun time," he says.
The tournament will also highlight how Lone Star is growing. The extraordinary growth, seen by the industry in the last several months, only demonstrates why the school will offer a new degree in e-sports management, next spring. Graduates will learn how to manage players, product development and marketing.
Lone Star wants students to be able to take advantage of the opportunity.
"ESports is one of those opportunities, while new, that is burgeoning," says Lone Star's Dr. Kyle Scott. "It's a multi-billion dollar business and there's nothing for us to do but be engaged in that and prepare our students for it."
Meantime, Scott says the tournament may be the only sports-competition that won't be canceled by the pandemic. Registration is open, now, to Lone Star's 93,000 students. Games begin next month with championships set for December.