The Herkimer County Community College esports team launched in the fall semester of 2020 due to the increased student interest into the growing industry. With the COVID-19 pandemic going on, the shift from in-person activities to remote was crucial and esports was seen as the best way to do so. Esports is a multiplayer competitive video game watched by spectators usually played by professionals or people at a high level. To compare it to regular sports, playing video games with your friends is the same as playing a friendly game of pick-up basketball while playing in an esports competition is similar to playing with professional basketball players at a high level. Since the video game industry is just now becoming more mainstream there are high levels of potential seen in it.
Herkimer began its program with a few teams featuring games like Call of Duty and Super Smash Bros. with the plan of creating more teams. In the spring of 2021 two freshmen, Christian Mandia and Jayden Vargas, entered the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare invitational and won first place in the country. The college hopes to increase funding and to continue to grow the esports program, even hoping to expand to an esports-focused major on campus.
The ideal next advancement of the esports program would be the formation of a gaming center. This would be a room that would allow the students to practice and prepare for upcoming events with high quality technology and equipment. This would also be where the teams compete with other schools.
Since esports are growing at such a fast rate, there are still plenty of people who have no idea about this opportunity. The toughest part about expanding the program is finding people who want to be involved. “We are also working on ways to promote esports and recruit students for the Fall 2022 semester,” said professor Dan Thompsune, assistant coach for the team. This could open up opportunities for people to get a better education because of a skill or ability to play video games. The esports program at Herkimer could potentially be seen as no different than a traditional sport.