The University of Michigan-Flint today announced plans to introduce an esports team to campus in Fall 2020.
Esports are organized, multiplayer video game competitions played by teams or individuals. Games can be played locally or against players around the globe.
“We are always seeking ways in which UM-Flint can be responsive to what prospective students are looking for in a campus,” said Kristi Hottenstein, UM-Flint’s Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management. “The rise of esports in higher education is a hot topic right now, and more and more students are looking at esports as an important criterion for selecting a university – either as an academic discipline or a social pursuit.”
UM-Flint has allocated funding for new equipment and a space on campus for an esports team to practice, train, and compete. Officials expect significant interest in the first year.
UM-Flint joins at least 15 other Michigan-based schools and universities offering esports in some capacity. Hottenstein and university officials see esports as more than just gaming; it’s a potential recruitment and retention tool, a way to engage students who do not otherwise participate in campus activities as well.
“In the next ten years, I expect every university to offer esports to students,” said Jason Gooding, a support specialist in the university’s Information Technology Services who plans to help lead the team in its first year. “In many ways, the community and support you feel from an esports team is the same as any other, with emphasis on working with others, social skills, strategic thinking and planning, self-directed learning, and time management.”
Officials anticipate interest in esports at UM-Flint to come from more than just those wanting to play the games.
“I hope this is just the beginning of esports at UM-Flint,” said Gooding. “I know students who have expressed interest in game design, marketing and production, cybersecurity, and management. The possibility to make aspects of esports an academic discipline is something I hope we’ll explore in the near future.”