Game Time

Esports arrives at USC Upstate

By Trevor Anderson

In October, USC Upstate launched its esports program aimed at attracting prospective Spartans and enriching the student experience by creating a thriving gaming community on campus.

A varsity program is scheduled to debut during the fall 2022 semester, but esports will be offered as a club activity in spring 2022.

Esports is located in a 1,600-square-foot gaming center within the university’s Health Education Complex. The center can feature up to 45 gaming stations, each equipped with a state-of-the-art computer by Alienware that includes an 11th generation Intel Core i9 processor 2.5 gigahertz with a 1 terabyte hard drive and 32 gigabytes of RAM memory, and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 graphics card.

“Few co-curricular options in American higher education are expanding like esports,” says Dr. Brit Katz, interim vice chancellor for student affairs at USC Upstate. “As greater numbers of universities work to create meaningful experiences for students through egaming, USC Upstate also aspires to compete with our consoles, keyboards and headsets.”

“Research confirms that esports players will enroll in an institution that is hundreds of miles away from home if elements like a terrific gaming station, excited peers, meaningful competition and affiliation exist,” Katz adds.

USC Upstate leaders and officials from other Big South member institutions are actively pursuing the development of competitions that could result in an informal conference championship.

The varsity program will initially compete in three games: “League of Legends,” “Valorant” and “Rocket League.” A range of other games will be available to club players, and the university plans to continue to grow those options over time.

Students test out the new eSports gaming system
Nick Ames, assistant director of intramural sports, club sports and summer camps at USC Upstate, says student polling showed overwhelming support for the inception of an esports program. Ames will direct the program, which operate under campus recreation.

“After listening to requests from our current and prospective students, we are excited to bring esports to Upstate,” says Donette Stewart, vice chancellor of enrollment services and director of admissions at USC Upstate. “Our new gaming center will feature the best Alienware computers on the market, so we are looking for competitive students to join us. We will offer students a chance to play the games they enjoy while they earn a top-notch degree that will prepare them for rewarding careers.”