Part video game social club, part competitive video game organization, SF State’s League of Gaming hopes to continue to grow this semester while developing partnerships with current and new esports sponsors.
Esports, the formal term for professional competitive gaming, has quickly gained popularity around the world and is now a multi-million dollar industry. Sports Illustrated reported that last year, esports brought in $493 million in revenue. At the highest levels of competition, winners can expect to bring home millions of dollars in winnings.
“Esports is getting huge. There’s millions upon millions of dollars within this industry and it’s growing,” said Aditya Sharma, the current League of Gaming President.
As esports have grown, so has the student-run League of Gaming. Last year, the League of Gaming became a member of Tespa, an esports organization that promotes and hosts collegiate video competitions.
“The League of Gaming started off a few years ago as a League of Legends only club, but last year our old president made us a Tespa chapter, and now we do all games,” said Aditya Sharma, the current club president. “
Chapter members are rewarded for hosting events. According to Sharma, the usual prizes include keyboards, headsets, mice, and other gaming related loot.
“Tespa gives us free merchandise, free marketing opportunities, and a bunch of hook-ups with other Tespa chapters in the region,” said Sharma. “All we have to do in return is take pictures of our club members having fun gaming.”
For the 2017-2018 school year, Tespa announced that it is offering $1 million in scholarships and prizes for its member schools.
Devon Bone, club event coordinator, said the partnership with Tespa has helped facilitate a better collegiate esports scene.
“Being part of Tespa really helps us to connect to all the other colleges that are in Tespa, and really run a collegiate circuit that way.”
Bone said that his main goal is to get more of SF State’s non-League of Legends gamers involved with the club.
“I definitely want to keep League of Legends as something we’re focusing toward, but open up our community to more than that,” said Bone. “We’ve got some people who are interested in Counterstrike, or Overwatch, or Hearthstone, just other possible games, making it a more inclusive thing than just specializing in one game.”
Being inclusive to other games seems to have had a positive impact for the club’s growth. Sharma said last semester, 20 to 25 people would show up to their events. So far this semester, over 100 people provided their contact info, showing interest in attending the first club meeting.
“Because gamers tend to be socially awkward, we would like to have a group where they can meet friends with the same interests as them, “ said Melissa Au, club treasurer.
Tespa isn’t the only sponsor of League of Gaming. The club also has a partnership with Red Bull, which supplies beverages for club events. Sharma was also contacted by San Francisco’s Microsoft Store about possibly hosting a League of Legends competition in the near future.
Sharma said that all of the merchandise and prizes supplied by their sponsors creates an incentive for gamers who would normally play alone at home to participate in the club’s events.
“I want the club to provide unique opportunities that you wouldn’t be able to get just by gaming,” said Sharma. “I want members to be involved in the gaming culture on campus and reward them for that.”
Several universities now have school-sponsored esports teams, the latest being Boise State, which approved a varsity esports program this year. Could SF State have its own official esports team in the near future?
Bone isn’t holding his breath. “In the grand scheme of things, esports is a fairly new thing. I think we’re going to have wait see if it’s really going to become something that schools are willing to invest a lot of money in.”