The National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) hosted its first-ever national convention at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia, July 18-20, 2018.
Panels for the first day focused very much on the steps and logistics necessary in establishing a college and/or university Esports program.
The day opened with the panel: “Where Should Your Program Live: Athletics, Academics or Student Life.” Panelists represented Grand View University of Des Moines, Iowa; Columbia College in Missouri; and St. Clair College in Ontario, Canada.
Grand View’s program resides under athletics, as does Columbia’s; St. Clair’s program, though, lies within student life. The reasons for these decisions derive from scholarship limitations and associated restrictions, and the ever-present opportunities for Esport players to continue revenue generation while matriculating. The basic willingness of existing collegiate departments to accept Esports also proves a determining factor.
All three schools admitted to the challenge of game/life balance among Esports athletes. Tutors, academic monitors, counseling, and grade reviews were proffered as remedies.
It became clear throughout the day that the more than 150 attendees viewed establishing Esports programs as a surefire way of increasing student enrollment. Fortunately, the experience of many NACE members has proven that supposition. Consequently, conference attendance is almost double original estimates Most importantly, all schools reported that Esports offerings – be they club, intramural, or intercollegiate – resulted in improved acceptance rates among applicants.
Another panel focused on “Building and Outfitting an Esports Arena.” Answers ranged from the simplicity of a LAN set-up in existing spaces to full-blown themed build-outs.
The afternoon was focused on the dynamics of developing and coaching Esports programs. Insights were shared by those with existing programs to those schools contemplating like initiatives.
The day wrapped with discussions about eligibility and governance. Discussion included the unresolved differences between the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). This was heightened by 45% conference attendance of NAIA members versus 35% attendance of NCAA members.
Day One confirmed that enthusiasm for Esports spans the spectrum of North American higher education. Onwards to Day Two!