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UCI’s new eSports program will give students an opportunity to participate in a massive and rapidly growing industry as they compete in organized multiplayer video game competitions.

According to an article on the official UCI website, the program will be built around four pillars: competition, academics, entertainment and community. Programs at UCI such as computer gaming science, computer science and digital arts will create a strong foundation for research related to gaming.

This initiative at UCI should be acknowledged because it allows for the importance of eSports to be recognized. This will provide the opportunity to build and support not only men but also women at the amateur level. ESports should be recognized to understand the unique talent and skills of the players which mirrors their determination.

The new eSports program will serve as a platform for students to achieve their goals and succeed in their endeavors. The gaming center will give others a chance to participate in fun and leisurely activities on campus to balance with academics. It will also help them to develop new social and technical skills.

While there can be debate about the scholarships that will be offered to students on the team, it is a good way for professional gamers to gain recognition for their expertise, allowing them to be motivated in their field of interest.

These scholarships will recognize the development of physical and mental abilities and the strategic decision-making speed required for professional play. It will give credit to gamers who are good at time management, have a good memory, are analytical thinkers and most importantly, determined.

While it might be a bold move, the creation of a solidified eSports initiative has incredible potential and should be more highly recognized by students on campus.

Apurva Jakhanwal is a first-year computer science major. She can be reached at ajakhanw@uci.edu.

Super Smash Bros. players (from left) Griffin Williams, Benjamin Tolan and Jason Chen hone their skills at the UC Irvine Student Center during their weekly meeting. The campus has a community of dedicated gamers Credit: Steve Zylius/UC Irvine
Super Smash Bros. players (from left) Griffin Williams, Benjamin Tolan and Jason Chen hone their skills at the UC Irvine Student Center during their weekly meeting. The campus has a community of dedicated gamers
Credit: Steve Zylius/UC Irvine

 

If it weren’t for school and my parents’ expectations, my little brother, William, would probably be a professional League of Legends player. He’s known at his high school for his Diamond 1 status, one of the highest levels a player can reach in the game, and recently wrote an English essay on the burgeoning eSports industry. He will be applying to colleges next year, and is looking at UCI as a potential choice partly because of its impressive eSports culture.

 

Although I am hesitant to accept UCI’s new plans for its eSports program, my little brother thinks that this is a lucrative choice. He stresses that as one of the first colleges to give scholarships for eSports, UCI will probably get a lot of publicity and support. There is already an ESPN series titled “Heroes of the Dorm” that streams live college eSports tournaments, including a recent match between Berkeley and Arizona State.

 

I see his point, but he and I both know that there are costs to this kind of fame, beyond what the students have to pay to fund it. Recently, hardcore gamers in countries like China and South Korea have found themselves suffering from health issues due to lack of nutrition and sleep, a result of focusing too much of their time and energy into games. Even worse, those gamers in the professional realm find themselves ruthlessly tossed to the side by their sponsors as quickly as they are picked up. This was the case for Chinese League of Legends team LMQ, a group of four boys stranded in California with no backup career plans after their sponsors left them.

To put it bluntly, college is the time to stop playing games, literally and figuratively, and start living life. Sure, gaming now and again is fine, but to put your money and your future on the line for it is naive and short-sighted. If UCI wants to sell itself as a gaming school, I hope it knows the possible repercussions this could have for its students.

 

Michelle Bui is a first-year biological sciences major. She can be reached at mkbui@uci.edu.

 

Look, it’s great and all that UCI is getting nice stuff, that gamers are happy and that ESPN is talking about us and what not, but really, did the STEM majors need another boost to their already robust arsenal of resources and opportunities?

I get it. As a business model, UCI is focused on the things that make money, so naturally more lucrative and practical programs that garner publicity and prestige get all the love and attention – and the nation’s first eSports team apparently. That’s the way the system works, but am I happy with it? Nope.

For instance. You’ve probably heard that Irvine’s the only UC with a school dedicated solely to computer science, but did you also know we’re the only school in the country with an undergraduate literary journalism program? Probably not.

I’m glad that students will have something new and exciting at their disposal, but come on UCI. Hook it up for the rest of us in Humanities, Arts and everywhere else once in awhile.

And one other thing to think about: Do we really want to be the gaming school? I mean, think about that long and hard. One day you’ll be sitting at a job interview, and moments later your potential employer looks up from the boastfully exaggerated white sheet in front of them only to inquire, “Oh, you went to UCI? That’s the gaming school right?”

Is that really what you want? Is that really what this campus needs? Another drop in the bucket of our already poppin’ reputation as a generally, dare I say, not cool school?

 

Ryan Toves is a second-year literary journalism major. He can be reached at tovesr@uci.edu

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