Esports at SFU | Saint Francis University
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Esports at SFU

 SFU Esports is competitive at the highest level and a best-practice model for small institutions who are looking to make an impact within the esports industry and in the lives of students. 

  • Is esports a real sport?

    Esports is competitive, organized gaming that has taken the world by storm. According to CNN, Esports have grown into a multibillion dollar industry with millions of fans.

    Many still question the role of esports in today's society. On December 2, 2017, Riot Games published this video on their official League of Legends YouTube channel to help answer some of those questions and solidify the role of esports as it continues to grow throughout the world. Riot Games, an industry leader for developing and supporting video games, released their debut game title 'League of Legends' in 2009 and the game has since gone on to become the most played PC game in the world and a key driver of the explosive growth of the world of esports.

    How is esports at SFU different from programs at other universities?
    Saint Francis University is different than other universities for many reasons.  As the oldest Catholic, Franciscan institution in the US, our institutional culture is grounded in faith, discovery, and generosity -- it's integrated into everything we do!  In addition to offering academic programs that tout state and national rankings (in some cases in the top 10%), we also provide one of the most successful athletics experiences in both success in athletic competition and success in the classroom and beyond graduation.  As a small school we're not intimidated by emerging trends and large-scale arenas...when you look at our programs and our students' experiences, we actually thrive in them!

    SFU Esports is no different.  We've been looking into esports and observing from a distance for a couple of years now.  We've investigated the emergence of intercollegiate, competitive gaming at all levels and have found a particular configuration that excites us.  Partnering with a professional esports company like American Esports, which is quickly becoming a leader in the international esports industry, provides us a level of confidence and eagerness that we might not have had if we were forging this stream on our own.  SFU Esports is competitive at the highest level and will be a best-practice model for small institutions who are looking to make an impact within the esports industry and in the lives of students.  Saint Francis University specializes in the holistic development of students and preparing them for success in both their personal and professional lives...SFU Esports is but another pathway for students to optimize their SFU experience!

    What does the new gaming arena include?
    The facility is a very exciting addition to the newly renovated lower-level of the JFK Student Center (which also features a brand new food court, conference rooms, bookstore, and more)!  This first-phase of the program includes 18 professional-grade gaming PCs and 2 Nintendo Switches.  If we want a high-impact experience, we cannot rely on sub-standard machines or tablets.  From the towers and monitors, to the headsets, mice, keyboards, and the custom leather gaming chairs -- everything is professional grade and we are ensuring that through our partnership with American Esports who specialize in designing and equipping gaming centers all over the country.  The internet connection is impressive, too -- featuring a dedicated 1-Gbps shielded Cat-6 Ethernet connection to ensure optimum speed and performance.

    The SFU Esports Gaming Arena also includes a central command-hub (podium) where our program administrators can easily control the arena's environment from a streaming and social media standpoint.  We're able to easily control live streams for viewers, fans, and subscribers to follow the team's competitions as well as allow the space to work as an lounge and observatory for our players to tune-in and check-out the action coming from other high school, college, and professional teams and leagues.

    The space was designed through contributions from both American Esports as well as the architectural designs of Kimmel-Bogrette, who created the renovation designs for the JFK Student Center - recently renovated.  The arena is climate-controlled and features Bluetooth-controlled RGB lighting,  card-swipe access for Student IDs, and team logos and program branding accent the space as well to provide a fun and exciting experience for serious and causal gamers alike.

    Is there an esports club, or just an inter-collegiate competitive team?

    We currently have a very active gaming club on campus that provides opportunities for their members and other students to game recreationally and through intramural tournaments.  They are an important partner with the esports program and will continue to be throughout the program’s continued growth and development. The current gaming club is more of a social/recreational club on campus so while there will be many opportunities to collaborate on events, SFU Esports as a program does look and feel a bit different.

    Here are the levels of gaming you will be able to participate in at SFU:

    • Intercollegiate competitive: Varsity level competition against other institutions under the University’s name/brand requiring high-level talent and dedication to the sport; requires eligibility/clearance through the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) and competes in the Easter College Athletic Conference (ECAC).
    • Intramural: Teams comprised of SFU students, faculty, and staff who compete exclusively against other SFU intramural teams through various on-campus matches and tournaments; available to gamers of any level
    • Recreational: Open-play format for casual gaming, socialization, and entertainment; available to gamers of any level
    Does SFU have any affiliations with professional esports teams?

    SFU does not have any affiliations with professional esports teams, however, our partnership with American Esports certainly brings SFU into the massive esports industry on a number of different levels including media, business, technology, and professional gaming, as well.  Additionally, the proximity of both the Pittsburgh Knights organization as well as the Philadelphia Fusion Overwatch team should provide us some opportunities to make even more direct connections to the world of professional gaming.

    How will involvement in esports at SFU make me a better student?

    Esports as a whole is really proving contrary to the misnomer that gamers are introverts or antisocial.  Research is consistently finding that esports athletes are incredibly social and very engaged within their schools and communities.  The platform of esports has allowed students to bring their interests and passions and share them with their peers and with the community at large.  There's a reason why the viewership of major esports tournaments and championships is now rivaling, and in some cases, even surpassing those of traditional professional sporting events.  So from an engagement and socialization level, esports is going to connect students and communities like never before.  SFU has an incredible following from both the athletics world as well as the academic and professional world, as mentioned before, with the success and popularity of our programs; Esports will only add another layer to the student- and campus-experience that will connect students to more of their peers and to more opportunities to help further their growth and development as people of character, integrity, service, and intellectual and professional ability.  Finally, esports has developed connections and applications to many academic fields and industries with emerging trends in technological advancements in health and medicine, sciences, education and business.  Our long-term plan is to ensure that SFU Esports is fully integrated into the robust academic curriculum as well.  There are many examples of other collegiate esports programs being integrated into fields like special education, healthcare, business and business analytics, marketing and communications, and of course STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics).

    Students participating in SFU Esports will also develop effective communication, team work, and problem solving abilities. The game titles that are chosen to be played as part of our program have been chosen specifically because they involve a higher level of strategy in completing complex objectives.  These games titles require athletes to communicate with each other about what is happening on their screen at all times as each player can only view a fixed perspective of the entire gameplay map, collaborate with each other to maintain their team's strategy, and think critically to find solutions to best their opponent's strategy.

    I want to make a career out of gaming. What academic programs does SFU have for me?

    Professional gaming does not require any specific major or field of study.  Anyone, with any degree, who possesses extraordinary talent and passion for gaming has the potential to move beyond collegiate gameplay into the professional arena.  Through American Esports, students will have internships and mentoring opportunities within the wider world of esports to include broadcasting, marketing, digital communications and media, business management, opportunities in technology and game-center development, and much more.  Additionally, with the surge in technological advances with things like artificial intelligence, virtual reality, analytics, and expanding applications in tele-medicine and tele-communications, there are a number of pathways to connect the world of gaming to an array of professional careers.

    What games can I play in the SFU Esports Arena?
    As a recruited member of one of our varsity Esports teams, you will be able to play Overwatch, League of Legends, Rocket League, Hearthstone, and Super Smash Bros. However, as an intramural or recreational player you can also enjoy Heroes of the Storm, Smite, and Dota 2.  As our program continues to grow, we may add additional games and varsity teams -- so stay tuned!