Right now, the brand-new technology lab on the third floor of the Abessinio Building is the lair of Neumann’s eSports team, but it won’t be all fun and games for long.
Located behind the flashy data analytics lab, which boasts an in-your-face presence to elevator occupants, the video gaming lab is hidden away in RAB 335. Inside are rows of 24 Alienware computers, large screens that can display any of the desktop visuals, and an eSports logo that fills an entire wall.
According to Derek Bosworth, head coach of the club, the new lab is “pretty awesome.” Each computer, he says, “has all of the hardware we could possibly need to play any game that’s out there.”
Bosworth graduated from Elizabethtown College with a degree in biology. During his time there, he started the League of Legends club and served as captain of the eSports team for two years. He currently teaches biology at Conestoga High School where he advises Science Olympiad and Science Bowl clubs.
Neumann’s eSports gamers compete against teams from other colleges across the country in classic games like Overwatch 2, Rocket League, and Super Smash Bros. The ten-person club competes in two leagues, NACE (the National Association of Collegiate eSports) and ECAC (the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference). Its schedule runs from late September to mid-November and includes matches with Temple, Cornell, Long Island University, Boise State, and the University of Kentucky.
“We actually started streaming matches, too,” notes Bosworth. “You can find Neumann eSports on Twitch TV.”
Dean Eric Wellington, however, has much bigger plans for the new technology lab. This year, he’s searching for a faculty member to teach video game production and hopes to offer a major in the field by the fall of 2024.
“We’re eager to launch a video game production major in 2024,” says Wellington. “eSports is a billion-dollar industry, so we’re building an eSports degree in order to teach the management side and hiring a faculty member to teach students how to build video games.”
Those programming skills are applicable in many other industries, he notes. “It’s exciting. Not only can you have fun and be competitive playing video games, but you can also learn skills on how to build them.”
Video game production is a booming industry that offers good-paying jobs in a variety of roles, including game design and production, art and animation, writing (storyline creation), and marketing.
The International Trade Administration estimates that 75 percent of U.S. households have at least one gamer and that eSports will surpass $2.5 billion in revenue by 2024. Insider Intelligence, a company that specializes in digital trends and forecasts, predicts that by 2023 the number of U.S. gamers will reach 181 million.
The U.S. News & World Report ranking of best undergraduate game design degree programs includes higher education heavyweights like the University of Southern California, Carnegie Mellon, MIT, Michigan State, University of Maryland, New York University, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.