An absence of esports

by | Oct 19, 2023 | Campus, News | 0 comments

Why MacEwan needs its own competitive gaming team

In the world of sports, a revolution is quietly unfolding. Esports is a billion-dollar industry where gamers take the role of modern-day athletes, with their weapons being the controllers that fuel competition. Esports are gaining significant ground in Albertan high schools and post-secondary institutions. It’s even drawing the attention of local governments. Yet, in this digital arena, there’s a puzzling absence — MacEwan University remains devoid of any esports teams. 

As educational institutions across the country wholeheartedly embrace this rapidly growing sector, it raises the question of why an institution like MacEwan University has yet to join the ranks.

Last year, in August, , a groundbreaking initiative, the Alberta Esports Strategy (according to Esports Canada)), took flight in Edmonton and Calgary. The visionary plan aims to establish Alberta as a major player in the esports scene, with plans to host major events atRogers Place. It reimagines the educational landscape with esports-focused curricula and credential programs.

An example can be found at NorQuest, the only post-secondary institution in Edmonton with a collegiate varsity esports team. Their journey began in 2018 as an administrative vision, but it exceeded expectations, attracting a crowd of 120 students for a FIFA-centred event in March 2021 which underscored the demand for such programs.

However, the story at MacEwan has taken a different course. While they once offered recreational esports, the current offerings are limited to traditional physical sports such as basketball, floor hockey, and volleyball. These conventional sports, however enjoyable and important, fall short in delivering the unique benefits that esports offer. Beyond catering to one’s competitive spirit, esports foster digital literacy and online responsibility. Moreover, they provide a supportive community to help guide individuals on their journey, whether they aspire to play professionally or simply enjoy gaming. Esports also share a natural connection with online streaming, allowing players to showcase their skills and even monetize their talents. NorQuest has gone the extra mile and provided workshops for content creators, offering a helping hand to those who might otherwise venture down this path alone.

And it’s not just post-secondary institutions getting in on the action; high schools are making strides as well.

Vimy Ridge, for instance, has launched an esports academy that provides gamers with a dedicated coach to lead them through practices, drills, and game analyses — these are all aimed at honing their gaming skills. The academy also requires its participants to engage in physical activity training, promoting general health, injury prevention, and reflex development. hose taking part in the academy also receive instruction in highly marketable skills related to the world of esports, including programming, design, and broadcasting — a concept reminiscent of NorQuest’s successful streaming camp.

With each passing day, the esports landscape continues to evolve, encompassing not only the thrill of competition but also a wide range of valuable life skills such as teamwork, communication, and digital literacy. Given the rapid expansion and marketability of esports, it’s puzzling that MacEwan has yet to take the plunge. Students are looking for not just education, but also the chance to develop practical skills and explore career opportunities. The absence of esports teams at MacEwan raises an important question: Is the university missing out on a unique opportunity to equip its students for the ever-evolving digital world? 

Perhaps, it’s time for MacEwan to tap into this dynamic and rapidly-growing sector which fosters not just gamers but well-rounded individuals that are ready to thrive in a tech-savvy future.

So in short, where is our damn Rocket League team?

Photo by Thai Sirikoone

Avery Collicott

The Griff

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