by Nicholas Diaz
Last semester, Columbus officially launched its eSports Gaming program. Located on the third floor of the MAS building in the space formerly occupied by CCNN, the eSports Gaming space has become an attractive site for both students and teachers. Many have passed by to check out the rows of computers where students play games such as Fortnite and Valorant or the consoles and TVs where they play games such as Super Smash Bros and FIFA. Previously an absurd idea, video games in schools have become a growing trend in today’s world of online and immersive education, and it seems they have some surprising benefits for students.
The idea for competitive eSports at Columbus originated in 2017 when students came to current eSports Gaming co-moderator Mr. Harriman with a desire to bring gaming to Columbus. During this time, “We did it from my room and their houses,” Mr. Harriman said, “but, with the help of Frank Azor and the IT department, we started to design and develop the room.”
With the assistance of Azor, an alum of the class of 1999 and Alienware co-founder, The room was officially opened at the Columbus Open House in November.
The space offers students many diverse ways to be involved in Columbus gaming. That is why sophomore Matthew Moreno states that it generates passion. The space allows students with many different interests and passions to work towards their goals through the medium of online gaming. Whether you prefer console games or computer games, role-playing games or sports games, the space has something to offer.
However, it is important to note that the space will serve a role in academics as well. As Mr. Harriman commented, “The goal is also to help [students] code and develop programs.”
In fact, Mr. Sanchez, the club’s other co-moderator, has proposed courses for next year that seek to utilize the space. Other educational benefits that come with the program include the potential of college scholarships and recruitment, as higher education transitions into the world of online gaming competition. One such institution is Full Sail University in Orlando, which, according to eSports Columbus Gaming President, sophomore Julian Gonzalez, is scouting for students at Columbus to provide them with opportunities in the world of competitive gaming.
There are many social benefits that come with the space as well. As Mr. Harriman says, “It is a cool place for students to hang out and go after school.”
This was especially highlighted in a story on Columbus eSports by WSVN 7 News Miami in which Moreno spoke about the space’s inclusive potential.
Moreno later commented, “The room has the ability to bring people together after school to just have fun.” Gonzalez, agreed, stating, “People who are not very social can come up here, and it’s a whole new outlet for them.”
Overall, what seemed an almost outlandish idea has become reality at Columbus, as the new eSports Gaming space has transformed educational and social experiences in the school. In the context of a growing online and immersive world, this development puts Columbus ahead of many other schools, offering Columbus students unique academic opportunities in the years ahead.
The future looks bright for Columbus eSports. As Mr. Harriman put it, “I am really happy, thankful, and excited to see what comes next.”