Aroostook County — On October 18th, during the annual Open House event on campus, NMCC will unveil its new esports gaming command center, home to the Falcons, and begin recruitment for the upcoming season.
Esports refers to the rapidly growing field of competitive video gaming, which includes a spectrum from sports games to role-playing fantasy games. Recent years have seen competitive esports become popular for both audiences and participants around the globe, and in the past 10 years, colleges have increasingly provided an avenue for competitive players.
The world championship for League of Legends, a popular multiplayer fantasy, earned a higher total viewership than the Super Bowl—100 million unique views. The global esports audience will reach 453.8 million this year, comprising both enthusiasts and occasional viewers, and generate $1.1 billion in revenues, up 26% year over year. This year, Philadelphia debuted plans to build a $50-million, 60,000-sq-ft esports arena, following the growing global trend.
“The world is beginning to take competitive gaming very seriously,” said Chris Perry, the newly-established esports coordinator at NMCC. “We have students on campus and people in the County investing time in these games, and we’re trying to meet students where they are, find talent, and create an outlet for that passion while providing quality education.”
NMCC’s first competitive season begins in January 2020, aligning with the beginning of spring semester; however, recruitment begins October 18th at the annual Open House event. Perry will introduce prospective Falcons to the cutting-edge technology and advanced gaming setups that support the team.
The command center, located off of the library, is equipped with five MSI Infinite X270 gaming machines, boasting Intel Core i9 9900K processors with GeForce RTX 2080 Ti graphics cards driving 27” MSI curved displays. All peripherals are competition-grade, manufactured by Razer. The room is equipped with accented RGB lighting and a 75’ Promethean active-panel display for streaming and strategic breakdowns.
NMCC joined the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC), which includes 60 competing schools as of January 2020, including both Central Maine Community College and Thomas College from Maine. ECAC Commissioner Dan Coonan offered a statement welcoming NMCC to the league, “We’d like to welcome Northern Maine Community College to ECAC Esports. We are thrilled to have their teams competing with us. We are happy to have them increase the geographic footprint of the conference further north as well! Best of luck to all NMCC teams this spring.”
“Research shows that getting students engaged in extracurricular activities increases their attendance, improves grades, and builds bonds with other students through problem-solving and teamwork,” stated NMCC President Tim Crowley. “We want to embrace these shifting trends and find new ways to engage our students and our community.”
Similar to any collegiate student athletics, NMCC esports athletes will be required to maintain good academic standing and commit to training and competition schedules.
President Crowley continued with the following statement, “I would like to express my appreciation to Dr. Scott Knapp, the President at Central Maine Community College. President Knapp provided access to their planning and development process. NM was able to work closely with CMCC faculty and staff to create this opportunity for students at Northern Maine. We look forward to meeting them in the digital arena.”
During Open House on October 18th, from 8am through 6pm, visitors can see the command center, test the equipment, and try the games for themselves. All community members are invited.