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  • Gabriela T. Richard

Featured on WPSU (PBS/NPR) discussing Collegiate Esports and History of Competitive Gaming

Today, I was featured on WPSU for a segment on #Esports, the rise of Collegiate Esports, and related matters about the historic, contemporary and future directions of gaming as a spectator sport. The interview was conducted by Penn State University President Dr. Barron and my co-panelist was Paul Mengucci, an undergraduate student who has been in the leadership of the Penn State Esports club, and is the founding president of the newly formed Penn State League of Legends Club* (he was also a coach and manager for the division 1 esports team, the team that represents Penn State nationally/internationally).

During the interview, we discussed the history of esports, the rapidly developing and changing state of the collegiate esports scene - including the increase in colleges and universities (now also large private and public ones) providing official varsity options (most universities support esports informally through student activities and organizations) - and other global and contemporary issues. We also discussed how colleges and universities have different models of support for esports, since most do not offer official varsity options; these include providing gaming lounges, community spaces, arenas, or supporting scholarships (which are typically provided by the gaming companies whose games are played in the esports arena). We touched upon how student esports athletes/players follow training models familiar to traditional athletics, including coaching, practicing, requiring GPA maintenance, and focusing on physical and mental health. We also reflected upon the future of esports and traditional athletics.

Though the interview was short, and there were many more areas we wished we had time to cover - including the rise of high school esports programs and higher education pathways, historic and contemporary issues around equity and inclusion, and changes in national association leadership (e.g., NCAA and the newly formed NACE - National Assoc. for Collegiate Athletics), it provided a good overview of the current state of this rapidly evolving arena, and considerations for colleges, universities and the wider public.

The interview is set to air sometime in late-October (date TBA). More information can be found on the WPSU website.


* Note: I am the current advisor of the Penn State Esports club (since 2016). I've worked with them to navigate university support of esports and adhering to university policies (and their own diversity and inclusion core mission). In recent years, some newer clubs have branched off from the central esports club, focusing on representing their specific games in esports. However, they have maintained a collaborative relationship since there is overlap and coordination involved in representing the university in esports at the university, national and international level. I've worked with each organization to assist in this process.

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