An upcoming Syracuse-based seminar promotes success with school esports programs.
SUNY Canton officials will be among the experts to present at Extreme Network’s Esports and Education Summit held from 9 to 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3 at the Marriott Syracuse Downtown Hotel.
The day-long seminar is designed for educators who want to learn about the numerous benefits an esports program can bring to a college or high school setting. The event is free, but registration is required by signing up at Extreme’s website.
SUNY Canton unveiled its esports program in Spring 2018 with 14 students playing on three teams. As of Fall 2019, it attracted more than 100 students playing in eight games. The program inspired the creation of a tournament style esports arena, with high-speed low-latency internet connections provided by Extreme Networks.
“We’re committed to using emerging technologies to deliver next-generation education and entertainment experiences to engage our student body,” said Kyle Brown, assistant vice president and chief Information officer. “We were the first SUNY college to offer varsity esports in 2018 and have built one of the largest, dedicated digital esports arenas in the northeast. Extreme has been a great partner in our esports journey.”
The college also partnered with Alienware to secure high-end Area 51 gaming machines to equip the space. It has since joined with Mountain Dew Game Fuel for an additional partnership. Representatives from both companies will be attending the seminar alongside management from the Eastern College Athletic Association (ECAC), which is the pre-eminent governing body in college athletics offering intercollegiate videogame competition.
“SUNY Canton has established itself as a leader in esports,” said Randy B. Sieminski, director of athletics and seminar presenter. “We wouldn’t be where we are today without the full support of our administration and the SUNY Canton community coupled with the buy in from our professional partners.”
According to a recent global esports survey, 71% of schools are considering or might consider adding an esports program in the future. These programs are network-intensive, requiring high performance gaming workstations, audio communication among teammates, video capture and connection to broadcast sites such as Twitch and YouTube. In a competition setting, every millisecond counts so networks must deliver high performance connections to ensure the best, most competitive game environment.
“Esports is gaining mainstream popularity, and schools are increasingly searching for and investing in digital programs that will attract and retain the next generation of students,” said Bob Nilsson, Extreme Networks director of vertical solutions marketing. “This creates an explosive market with an entirely new ecosystem of producers, sponsors, suppliers, players, audiences, and venues.”
In addition to highlighting the technology driving esports, discussions will include getting an esports program off of the ground; how esports enhances educational options; blending on-campus and online student life; and the overall benefits of a program in an academic setting. Much of the funding used to launch the program was provided by a SUNY Performance Investment Fund Grant.
“Esports supports and naturally connects with so many of our academic majors such as Game Design and Development, Cybersecurity, Graphic and Multimedia Design, Technological Communications and many others, including our engineering and STEM offerings,” said Molly A. Mott, SUNY Canton associate provost and dean of academic support services. “It’s also been shown that engaged students are more successful with higher retention and graduation rates. Esports helps us improve on those goals in addition to offering opportunities for our large percentage of online students to participate in a collegiate athletic program.”
About SUNY Canton
SUNY Canton is Northern New York’s premier college for career-driven bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees and professional certificate programs. The college delivers quality hands-on programs in digital design, engineering technology, health, management and public service. Faculty members are noted for their professional real-world experience in addition to outstanding academic credentials. As SUNY’s leader in online education, SUNY Canton OnLine offers hundreds of flexible and convenient courses as well as 18 online degree programs. The college placed first in 14 categories in a SUNY-Wide Student Opinion Survey, most notably in career services, tutoring, library resources, and classroom facilities. The college’s 15 traditional athletic teams compete at the NCAA Division III level as part of the North Atlantic Conference. SUNY Canton also offers varsity esports and cheerleading.