As eSports gain popularity worldwide, an Edmonton post-secondary institution has plans to get into the action through regular video game tournaments.
NAIT hosted its first official eSports competition on Saturday on its main campus for both students and the wider community.
It included live-streamed games of League of Legends and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, as well as a Super Smash Brothers battle featuring more than 60 players.
“Personally, I grew up in sports, so I’m a very competitive person,” said Chad Regier, who entered the Counter-Strike competition. He plans to take computer engineering technology at NAIT, with video games possibly in his future.
“When I finish my degree, I want to look into the gaming field, for sure,” Regier said. “It’s something that has always intrigued me.”
The tournament is part of NAIT’s effort to bring what it calls “non-traditional sports and recreation events” to campus and encourage a sense of community.
“It brings a community for them. It really shows what eSports can do,” said Riley Shelton, who has been working with NAIT, the students association and two eSports clubs since last year to organize the event.
For NAIT business marketing student Garrett Ross, who was competing in and helping run the Smash Brothers match-up, the game has meant much more than just having fun.
“I’ve met people that I normally wouldn’t be friends with in any other circumstance just because I wouldn’t have met them, but our shared interest in this game — it just brought us all together.”
The tournament saw strong attendance from a diverse range of backgrounds, according to Jenny Lau with the NAIT Student Association.
“Some of them are in business, some of them are in hospitality, and they just come because they have the same passion for video games,” Lau said.
Worldwide, eSports are expected to generate $1.1 billion in revenues this year, with viewership growing to 454 million, according to industry analytics firm Newzoo.
NAIT organizers intend to host similar tournaments in future months.