Whether or not you classify them as a true sport, one thing is undeniable: eSports are getting more and more popular. For those unfamiliar, eSports are a relatively new form of sports centered around video games. At the professional level, gamers can earn hundreds of thousands of dollars, a fact many find hard to believe. Esports have even reached the point of popularity where some colleges have begun offering scholarships for prospective students with high ability. From League of Legends, to Super Smash Bros., and most recently, Fortnite, there has been a recent explosion in the popularity of esports, and Colby has certainly seen some of this excitement.
In fact, Colby has a club that dedicated to one such game- the Colby Super Smash Bros. Club (commonly referred to as Colby Smash) has been around for about four years and is dedicated to the game of the same name: Super Smash Bros. Melee (as well as other iterations of the game such as Super Smash Bros. 4). The club is dedicated to fans of the series and is open to anyone just looking to have some fun or improve and test their skills against others. For those looking for the competitive side of the club, Colby Smash hosts two tournaments a semester for those looking to compete and has over 80 members registered on the club Facebook page.
As of late, the “go-to” game has been the massively popular free-to-play game Fortnite. In it, players fight up to 99 other players in hopes of seeing the ever-elusive “Victory Royale” text on their screen at the end of the match. On the Instagram account NESCAC Barstool, an affiliate of the popular Barstool Sports website, there have been numerous videos of Colby students playing Fortnite — ranging from videos of Colby students with four to five TVs set up all playing the game, to friends pranking each other by turning off the gaming system in the final few moments of the game. Videos such as these have garnered well over 10,000 views each. The game has even reached a point of popularity where it is extending into the classroom. Three students recently gave a presentation in an economics class in which Fortnite was discussed in relation to innovation and game theory.
Much of the popularity of the game comes from the intense competition and difficulty of winning. Alan Leggett ’20, who is an avid player of the game, commented on how “the game really creates an electric competitive atmosphere for those playing and those watching. It’s not uncommon that I’ll have 10 to 15 people huddled around me in the final few minutes of the game because it can get so intense. It’s really just a lot of fun.”
While competition has always been a central theme to any sport, it appears that the traditional medium of competition is beginning to change. Athletics will likely always be the central focus of competition among schools, and they are certainly not going away in the foreseeable future. However, it may just be that video games will soon broaden the spectrum in how colleges and universities compete with one another.