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Kent State University Launches its eSports Program to Attract Gamers

photo of Overwatch eSports league
Seven six-person teams competed at Kent State's first eSports competition on Saturday, where the school announced a scholarships for gamers this fall.

Kent State University has joined a rapidly growing movement around the country and started an eSports program to recruit video gamers and form a team to compete against other schools.

Kent State held its first eSports tournament on Saturday, complete with play-by-play announcers, fans in the stands and an online stream of the six-person teams playing the shoot-em-up game “Overwatch.”

Steve Toepfer is a professor of human development who is coordinating the school’s program. He says there has been some pushback from faculty who view the team as endorsing a sedentary activity for students.

“They’re already doing it whether we had the program or not. But with the program in-place, we can monitor them better. We can try to help them be more well-rounded.”

Toepfer says that includes requiring players to participate in at least one physical activity – such as yoga – during the semester.

“These guys want so badly to put on a jersey – which they’re going to be able to do – and then go after Akron. They want to compete against these other schools and represent the university. And they had no other outlet to do that.”