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PlayVS Makes Foray into College Esports

PlayVS and Epic Games have teamed up to launch a Fortnite esports league for college and high school players. Epic produces Fortnite and has operated its own esports league for the game. PlayVS is a company that provides a competition structure for school esports programs. Previously, Fortnite wasn't part of the PlayVS lineup of esports games (alongside League of Legends, Rocket League and SMITE), and it catered primarily to high schools, not colleges. In response, at least one state has nixed the playing of varsity Fortnite in high schools because the game's weaponry incudes guns.

Participating high schools will be part of regional conferences, based on time zone. At the college level, every school will be part of the same conference. Any type of playing device will be allowed. However, players can only compete on campus under the direction of a coach. Fortnite teams are two-player, and each school will be able to register as many teams as they want. There is no special fee. Those that do the best will compete in a playoff at the end of the season and a championship match in May. Also, each week, the three highest-scoring teams from each conference will be guaranteed placement in the playoffs.

The official launch of the league season begins on Feb. 24, 2020 for high schools and March 2 for institutions of higher education. The timing is similar to a Fortnite competition announced last year by the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE). That play season hasn't yet been sanctioned by Epic Games; however, reporting by the Washington Post noted that the company was in "discussions" with NACE about the competition.

"Millions of people are already playing Fortnite--it's become a part of culture" said Delane Parnell, founder and CEO of PlayVS, in a statement. "We hope adding the title to our game lineup and expanding platform access to colleges inspires the gamer in everyone to get involved in their school's programs. Epic's been an instrumental partner in our mission to create a scalable program with no limitations on participation, and we look forward to working with additional publishers to power our college programs."

PlayVS teams can sign up on the PlayVS website.

At least one athletic association is unhappy about the decision to add Fortnite to game play at the high school level. The Lexington Herald-Leader in Kentucky reported that the state's high school athletic association had banned the program for its member schools. Commissioner Julian Tackett told the newspaper, "there is no place for shooter games in our schools." Serious Fortnite players are known to debate what the best gun is in the game for optimizing DPS--"damage per second."

As Tackett noted, the announcement of the PlayVS-Epic decision came out on the same day as the anniversary of a fatal shooting at Marshall County High School. On Jan. 23, 2018, a 15-year-old student walked onto the campus commons with a handgun and opened fire, killing two students and injuring a dozen others.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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