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Texas Colleges Ramp Up Commitment to Esports

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Two Texas colleges are ramping up esports. When Kilgore College reconvenes in the fall, students will have use of a new esports training room, which opened just prior to the college closing down the physical campus in response to coronavirus. And Navarro College announced that it would be launching a competitive esports league in fall 2020.

Kilgore's new facility for Rangers Esports officially opened March 2 in the school's Devall Student Center. According to the college, the operation includes Dell gaming computer stations, NVIDIA RTX 2080 Ti graphics cards and 27-inch monitors.

"If students want to join the ranks of the professional gamers, they have to hit a very special type of gym," said Andy Taylor, the school's esports coach, in a statement. "We are extremely proud of our new gym, that gives our students a place to practice and prepare for competitions."

The school's entrée into esports started in spring 2019, following a "Clash for College" tournament that awarded $4,000 in Kilgore scholarships to the top finishers. The Overwatch, League of Legends, Rocket League, Call of Duty and Hearthstone teams have 26 members, which in normal times compete across the state with other colleges and universities at gaming tournaments. The most recent in-person competition took place at an Overwatch Masters Tour at the esports stadium in Arlington, TX.

The college also offers academic game design courses, including "Introduction to Game Design and Development" and "Mobile Applications Development." These courses are part of a one-year certificate in software support and a two-year associate degree in software development and support, offered through the Computer and Information Technology (CIT) department.

At Navarro College, the campus at Corsicana will have a competitive team under the National Junior College Athletic Association, while three other campuses will have club-level teams competing at the recreational level. And across the district, the school will have career tracks that support the esports industry.

The college will use funds donated from a local bank and the Navarro College Foundation to underwrite the program launch. Two classrooms in the school's computer science building on the Corsicana campus will be renovated to become the Navarro Esports Complex, where there will be competition rooms with "state-of-the-art gaming equipment, shoutcast and streaming booths and a common area where people can come and watch the competition on monitors," the college stated.

Recently, Navarro named Raven White as esports head coach. White is currently the esports coach for Missouri Valley College.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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