Most BYU students have played a video game at some point in their lives. Video games can be a fun and even social activity, but some students are taking things to the next level with competitive games, sometimes called esports.
Seth Haws is an English major who frequently studies and watches esports. Haws said there are several types of video games that most people are familiar with. These include puzzle games, like “Tetris;” narrative games like “The Legend of Zelda;” and role-playing games like “World of Warcraft.” However, it’s games that are specifically designed for competition, like “Dota” or “League of Legends,” that are considered esports.
According to Haws, esports competitions are played internationally. Companies like Riot Games organize different leagues geographically, and the leagues compete in an international championship once a year. These competitions can involve money and are streamed via platforms like Twitch.
BYU houses its own esports club. BYU eSports Club president John Nemelka, a computer science major, became interested in competitive gaming in high school and joined the club when he arrived at BYU.
Nemelka said the club started as a branch of the IT club but eventually chartered for their own club and space. The club holds local area network parties in which they socialize, get to know each other and practice playing competitively.
Nemelka has big plans for the club. The goal is to form an official esports team that will allow BYU to compete in other collegiate leagues, most likely playing “League of Legends.”
Mason Coram, a recent BYU graduate and former eSports Club president, said the strategy and gameplay of most competitive games mimic that of physical sports and require a lot of communication and teamwork.
However, the club serves other purposes as well. Coram said he greatly benefitted from being a member of the club, as it was where he met most of his BYU friends.
Both Coram and Nemelka agree that the club is helpful to members as far as socializing goes. Nemelka notes that, while the stereotypes surrounding competitive gamers are not always true, a lot of club members have gained communication skills through playing games together. Nemelka said members who take on leadership roles within the club also develop useful social skills.
Esports may be somewhat unconventional, but Coram and Nemelka are confident they will become more prominent as time goes on.
More information about the eSports Club can be found on the BYU eSports Facebook page.