Opinion: ASU should be taking esports more seriously

Students who participate in esports deserve their own facility

While sports at ASU are covered and funded, esports, a form of competitive gaming, despite growing in popularity around the world in recent years, has yet to receive the same level of attention as other sports. 

Students have even formed the ASU Esports Association and have recently launched a GoFundMe campaign asking for funding for their own facility on campus — but ASU needs to begin taking this trend just as seriously as they do other sports and their teams.

Unlike other ASU sports teams, which have their respective gyms and fields to practice and compete, the esports teams have to find space wherever they can to practice. 

Treating the current ASU Esports Association as just a club is a mistake. ASU should be treating gaming athletes the same as football and basketball athletes. Furthermore, professional esports attract many fans, and esports at ASU could also draw a large crowd.

Competitive esports have become very popular in the United States, even estimated to have reached the same viewership as the NBA in 2018, according to a 2018 Activate Inc. study.

Currently, the association's GoFundMe has raised over $6,000 out of its $8,000 stretch goal. Many of the donations are from the ASU community in order to help fund a facility for the association to use for teams to practice and train.

Students who enjoy gaming but aren't currently on a competitive team also can benefit from this type of facility. 

The facility is expected to be available to students as an internet cafe where they can purchase time for a fee and use the gaming computers and equipment when practice is not underway. 

This would provide the only internet cafe within a mile radius from the center of campus; the others being Level Up Gaming and Game Mamba Studio in Tempe.

While these other internet cafes have decent pricing, at $5 an hour and discounts available for longer sessions, if the esports facility could match pricing, it would be a better option for students on campus.

The association contains very competitive esports teams, including teams for games like Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm and more. 

Danielle George, the vice president of the ASU Esports Association and a junior majoring in digital culture, said if ASU doesn't build an arena for esports in the next five years, they'll be missing out on something big. 

While the new facility is a step in the right direction, George said it's still not the end of the association's desires. They will continue seeking additional funding for more peripherals and equipment as they can be quite expensive.

"We are always looking for more sponsors whether that be within the esports community or even sponsors like Domino's," George said.

In regards to the internet cafe, George does not yet have a price available for what will be charged to use the facility, but mentioned that the association will do its best to be competitive with the internet cafes close to campus.

As esports gains more attention, ASU should be taking the facility and growth of the association more seriously. 

So far, the only donation ASU has made to the association was a small dorm room to gather in before the current room planned for the facility.

This minimal assistance is hardly adequate for the association and wouldn't be considered adequate for any other ASU sport.

At a minimum, ASU should be matching funding for the facility. A better course of action would be for the University to fully invest in the facility, constructing it themselves.

We are on the precipice of a digital revolution when it comes to competitive activities.

ASU wouldn't be the first university to build an arena for its esports programs either, as the University of California Irvine already built one.

There should be equal consideration for a fully equipped esports arena for competitive student teams to utilize and compete in. The esports facility could draw competitive gamers, possibly leading to providing scholarships for a new type of athlete on campus and paving the way toward capitalizing on the popularity of esports. 

The people making decisions for the University do not understand just how popular technology is to new and future generations, and they are missing out on a new technological frontier. 


Reach the columnist at tjdonne3@asu.edu or follow @TimDonn73804728 on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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