The rise of esports at McPherson College

The rise of esports has occurred all over the country in the past couple of years, last year it came to McPherson. McPherson College launched its own team last year. McPherson College competes in the National Association of Collegiate eSports. The NACE is made up of over 45 teams from across the country. The esports initiative at Mac was helmed by Andrew Ehling who advocated for the creation of the program. Initially, the team was led by Richard Martin, the co-owner of the Village Geek, but J.D. Williams was recently hired for the job. I interviewed J.D. about esports in general and the establishment of esports in McPherson.

How did you become involved with esports?

I was a normal college student who was involved with tennis and soccer while enjoying video games in my free time, playing games like Madden, NBA 2K, FIFA, and games like that. But it was around my junior year when I discovered PC gaming and the game called League of Legends, which lead me into learning more about esports.

What do you think the biggest misconception is about esports?

I think that the biggest misconception is the belief that people who are involved with esports/video games are just nerds or lazy people. The fact is that esports is something that appeals to any and all sorts of different people, including someone like myself who has been involved with athletics all my life. Playing games has been another way to channel my competitiveness now that I am no longer a collegiate athlete.

When did you start at McPherson?

 I officially started December of 2019.

What are the games that you compete in, i.e. Overwatch, League of legends?

Personally? I enjoy playing League of Legends a lot, that’s the game that I keep going back to. The team at McPherson college competes in League of Legends and Overwatch, currently, and could possibly look at adding more titles such as Rocket League in the future.

What do you think of the rise of esports, do you think it will become a permanent part of the cultural consciousness?

Absolutely, I think esports will be a part of our culture just like how the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, etc. have become normal parts of our culture. The big part is that esports has an easier access point than most traditional sports. You can watch most of the big esports leagues online on Twitch for free, from pretty much any electronic device, and a lot of these games are free to play, meaning that the financial investment is so much lower than something like playing youth club baseball. Also, you play with other people of your skill level, no matter your age, gender, race, etc., which makes it a very attractive product.

As the generation that grew up with twitch, streaming natives, grow up do you think esports will become more popular?

Yes, I do believe that esports still has room to grow. Traditional sports are losing interest, specifically, baseball (pace of play, not exciting enough for younger fans) and football (health/concussion concerns), leaving a void that esports can fill in the future.

 What initially got you into gaming?

I was fascinated with games from when I was pretty young, starting with games like Need for Speed, Madden, Sonic, and many other games.

 Favorite video game of all time?

That’s a hard question. I’d say probably FIFA, because it really fired up my competitive drive in video games, playing against a lot of the guys on my soccer teams in high school and college. Madden, MLB the Show, NBA 2K are close behind, while League of Legends is definitely my current favorite game.

How does the team train? Do you meet up? Or is it done remotely?

So the McPherson esports team meets in their dedicated esports space in the Village Geek, located downtown, McPherson. Training is achieved by working on specific strategies and improving game mechanics and decision making.
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