UNCW Esports program reaches 600 students, receives funding for lab, paid positions
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Around 600 students at UNC Wilmington have shown interest in online gaming, also known as Esports. The university hopes to take the program to the next level with the recent announcement of $300,000 in funding over the next three years.
Student Ariana Curtis says the program now has several varsity-level teams across a variety of games. She says the level of competition in the video gaming world is up there with other varsity sports.
“You have the players, you go to practices, you know, you set up meets with other teams across the state, and then you play the game,” Curtis said. “So it’s like that, except for the games that we play aren’t exactly physical, they’re online, hence the ‘E’ in Esports.”
UNCW Professor and Esports program coordinator Dr. Ray Pastore says he is proud of how far the program has come.
“They are helping us build a lab classroom that’s going to be used for courses or teams,” Pastore said about the recent funding announcement. “So, it’s going to be multipurpose in helping support our teams so that our students, you know, maybe have jerseys and things like that.”
The university also offers an Esports certificate program.
“Let’s say a student is a marketing major and they’re really interested in the Esports field. They can come and take a couple of classes focused on Esports, in addition to their degree and help build a portfolio around that degree and also get an internship as part of that,” Pastore said.
The teams of students either play socially or compete against other schools across the state. Student Maeve Klimek says it brings a sports mindset to the gaming world.
“You watch the scrimmages that you’ve done with a coach and you go through, individually with each player, what everyone could do better and then they take all of that and they strategize with the game,” Klimek said.
Curtis says the program is an opportunity for anyone with an interest in video games to sharpen more than just their controller skills.
“I see, you know, skills that you can get from it, increasing your, like, mental agility and stuff like that, teamwork skills,” Curtis said. “And the biggest thing for me is, I really love the community and social aspect of it.”
UNCW will host a documentary screening at 6 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 30 at the Lumina Theater on campus. To learn more about the Esports program, click here.
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