By Cara Forline
CCC Journalism Program
CHERRY HILL – An esports gaming arena is being constructed on the second floor of Camden County College’s William G. Rohrer Center in Cherry Hill. The Cougar Esports Arena will be the first of its kind in Camden County and is anticipated to open this winter. It’s expected to house 30 gaming computers, which will be used for competition gameplay, broadcasting and live streaming.
The Industrial Psychiatry Journal defines esports as “the world of an interconnection of multiple platforms, computing, gaming and media into a sporting event.” This is a fast-rising sport in popularity. A report from Statista’s Christina Gough found the esports market is valued at “over 1.08 billion U.S. dollars,” which is an almost 50 percent increase from last year.
The director of the esports program at Camden County College, Sean Dwyer, said the main goal of the program is “breaking the stigma of gaming,” as well as creating an inclusive and safe environment to enjoy playing video games. He acknowledges toxicity can surround the gaming industry but hopes the program will combat that through promoting “positive energy in gaming.” Dwyer is focused on keeping video games fun. He describes the esports plan as “a passion project.”
Further, community outreach is one of the biggest proponents of the project. With a focus on including the public, plans include allowing local middle and high schools to use the arena also. The esports department wants Camden County College to serve as the primary supporter of esports locally.
Since more than 50 students are anticipated to be involved in the project, different teams are already forming for individual video games. Both team selections and formations are already ongoing. The teams are based on both game and skill level. A few video games the program anticipates including are League of Legends, Valorant, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Apex Legends.
Connor Loescher, a Camden County College nursing student planning to join the program, called the esports arena a place “where people can come together and play games and talk about classes and life.” Loescher added this will be a “hopeful and fun experience,” especially since the lockdown because of the pandemic put people in a “negative mindset.”
The program’s goal is to engage different types of people, so students interested in the esports program don’t have to be gamers. There are plans to include communications-related majors. The arena will include a broadcast desk, where live reporting of the gameplay will take place.
Students interested in learning more about the esports program are encouraged to email Dwyer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Those wanting to watch the Cougars’ live streams once the arena is open can find the Twitch link here.