Purdue University Northwest now is among the growing ranks of U.S. colleges offering competitive video gaming as part of its varsity athletic program.
The college announced Feb. 17 it will add Esports, which it describes as “competitive, organized, and multiplayer online video game competition(s)” as its 14th varsity athletic program beginning this fall. PNW said Esports is the world’s fastest growing sport at the collegiate level.
Purdue Northwest joins fellow Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference schools, Ashland University, Davenport University and Michigan Technological University, in the Esports arena. According to the National Association of Collegiate Esports more than 170 colleges nationally including: Boise State University, Georgia State University, Miami University of Ohio, the University of Utah, and Western Kentucky University have varsity Esports programs.
Newzoo, a gaming industry firm, estimates that Esports has a recorded audience of more than 54 million fans in North America with 75 percent being between the ages of 18 and 34. Esports generated estimated revenues of $1.1 billion in 2019 and has a global audience of more than 450 million, Newzoo said.
“I am excited to launch Esports at PNW,” said Rick Costello, director of athletics. “The growth of Esports is amazing and this sport provides competitive, social engagement, and educational opportunities for our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the Northwest Indiana community.”
Patrick Massoels, assistant athletic director for sports Information, marketing & event management, said the college also will offer scholarships for varsity Esports.
Niaz Latif, interim provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at PNW, said Esports, like other athletic programs, “fosters development of teamwork and critical and analytical thinking.”
“PNW is connecting academics and athletics in yet another way,” Latif said.
Esports is another avenue for career paths for students.
“Esports is a billion-dollar business and can enhance many career opportunities for our students – including management, marketing, game design and production, broadcasting and event management, and health care,” said PNW Chancellor Thomas Keon. “Like other competitive sports and co-curricular activities, Esports offers one more way PNW promotes the education and development of students.”
The PNW Pride Esports team will be developed as a co-ed sport. Possible games for competition include Fortnite, Hearthstone, League of Legends, Overwatch, Rocket League, and many more.
Esports arenas will be developed in the student union buildings on both PNW campuses in Hammond and Westville, located in Northwest Indiana near Chicago and the Indiana Dunes National Park.
The arenas will feature 30 gaming stations using state-of-the-art equipment, the college said. The Esports space also will be open to all students during designated hours for intramural programs and individual student use.