CMU to build esports area, join national association for video game competitions

The future of sports could be electronic.

Whether video games ever overtake athletic sports in popular favor remains anybody’s guess, but their ever-increasing popularity is undeniable. They’ve reached such a level of mainstream acceptance, in fact, that video game competitions are now called esports.

There’s even a National Association of Collegiate Esports.

Count Central Michigan University as a future member.

CMU has announced plans to join the NACE with plans to build a temporary esports and gaming area in the Student Activity Center this spring. A more permanent location is expected to follow.

"It could be a powerful recruitment tool for CMU," says Stan Shingles, assistant vice president for university recreation.

"The growing popularity of gaming means future students are considering the availability of esports when they choose a college or university."

By building a dedicated location for the esports area, CMU is formally recognizing what students have been doing on their own for years. Damon Brown, director of student activities and involvement and managing director for competitive gaming for the university, says that more than 100 students already gather on campus to compete in games that include League of Legends, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Overwatch, and Rocket League.

Students have organized their own tournaments, inviting players from visiting schools as well as sending their own teams to national competitions.

While a National Association of Collegiate Esports, and even CMU joining it, may seem an odd notion to some, the fact is that esports aren't going away. There are more than 150 colleges and universities in the NACE. And there are over 1,000 high schools in the High School Esports League.

The CMU esports area will be located in the former Trackside snack bar at the Student Activity Center. The University Space Committee will consider locations for a permanent esports area soon.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.