Organized eSports Coming to Minnesota State Mankato?

Survey Looks At Popularity, Possibilities

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by BRETT MARSHALL, CSU Public Relations Assistant

Take the gaming survey to provide feedback on gaming habits like systems used and games played.

One of the fastest growing communities in the world could soon have a new home at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

A group of Minnesota State Mankato staff recently completed a research report on eSports and its presence across colleges and universities across Minnesota and the rest of the United States.

The report was submitted to University administration and is being reviewed to determine the feasibility of having eSports as an active part of student life at Minnesota State Mankato.

Ben Nelson, marketing & facilities coordinator for MSU Campus Recreation, has been one of the leads on the research and thinks bringing eSports to campus could help build friendships and community.

“We want gamers to able to experience that community beyond their screens and headsets and to be able to game together on campus.”

Nelson and the team have been surveying campuses similar in size to Minnesota State Mankato to find out if they have an eSports program and, if so, how it operates. They found that although several campuses have eSports programs, there doesn’t appear to be one magic recipe for how eSports groups are started, funded and supported.

“There’s no clear home for eSports in a lot of universities,” Nelson said. “Some schools have eSports under the same umbrella as NCAA sports like basketball volleyball. Others are based out of academic areas, some are based out of recreational areas and some are based out of student unions.”

Not even the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA), a leader in advising campus recreation programs, had an idea of where to house eSports.

“It’s not typical to what campus recreation is used to offering. It’s not a physical sport,” Nelson said. “Even in the campus rec world there’s a divide between ‘Is this part of us?’ or ‘Is this not a part of us.'”

Nelson thinks Minnesota State Mankato would benefit most from housing eSports in Campus Rec with a mix of intramurals and competitive club teams.

“The most likely route would be an eSports umbrella with subsequent RSO’s dedicated to different games underneath that umbrella,” Nelson said.

But getting to that point will still require funding and resources from the University. Nelson said the University would have to determine if it wanted to invest in gaming systems and computers, a dedicated space for the gaming, travel and/or other expenses associated with the formation of eSports.

There’s no timeline for eSports at this time as the preliminary research just concluded and was passed on to administration. Nelson said if students continue to show interest and support, it could help push the idea forward. He said the best way for students to help is go to the Campus Rec Facebook page and take the gaming survey to provide feedback on gaming habits like systems used and games played.

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