West Virginia Wesleyan College announced a first for the college on Thursday morning; the hiring of the first coach for a college-organized Esports team.
Coach Kevin Wu said competitive video gaming isn’t just a hobby, but can also connect schools to a new generation.
“These things are becoming part of the modern era, and they’re not really things we can avoid, so I think it’s really important for a school, especially a smaller one, to stay in line with what the students are doing, with what the rest of the world is doing. I think it’s a really great chance for them,” said Wu.
It’s no longer a just a hobby either. Millions of dollars are awarded for top-level gamers each year, with the companies that make some games providing support for college leagues. And like other sports, it’s turning into big business, too.
“This year we’ll probably hit a billion dollars in gaming for the first time. 230 million people watched video games in the month of May alone, so this is a very serious part of society,” President Joel Thierstein
Whether a Wesleyan grad becomes a professional or not, Thierstein said there are skills to be learned from competing on a team that can be transferred from the screen to the real world.
“There are different levels of competition, and they can continue to compete after they graduate, and this gives them kind of a co-curricular activity that will allow them to succeed at a variety of levels, not just in their gaming world, but also in their academic world, as well,” said Thierstein.
While Esports may not be an athletic pursuit, there’s still practice and training needed to become the best, and that’s part of what makes the competition both intense and educational.
“That sort of edge is really what keeps them in line. The things you have to do to be competitive, the things you have to do to succeed, I do think they’re very similar, and I do think in that regard it is very much the same at heart,” Wu said.