Your parents probably urged you not to spend all of your time playing video games or you likely limit the amount of time your kids can spend with a controller in hand. But what if I told you that kids nowadays get into college, even with a scholarship, for playing video games?
eSports has taken the college sports scene by a storm, with more and more colleges and universities offering eSports teams every year. The National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) was formed to support this growing program, and ESPN broadcasts video game competitions. Different video games have specific competitive seasons, making this an exciting year-round sport. Games include Dota 2, Counter-Strike, League of Legends, Halo, and many others. Believe it or not, more people watch eSports competitions in a year than the NBA finals.
Different capabilities are needed to support an eSports team than for a more traditional sport like baseball or football. Ditch the large stadiums and bleacher seats; complex computer labs are required to support the high-quality computers and accessories needed to play the games, with viewers tuning in online to watch the matches take place. To support this, a high-density, reliable, and secure network is necessary to ensure eSports games can go on without hitting the network client limit, experiencing bad latency issues, or having the network go down altogether. And a strong Internet connection is imperative to making sure eSports competitions can go on without a hitch.
The IT team at Illinois College knows this all too well. When deciding to launch their eSports program in the summer of 2017, they knew they needed a robust network to support a room full of gamers eager to win League of Legends championships. But first, they had to build a brand-new facility in the middle of campus, stocked with several computer and console gaming stations. Equipped with Cisco Meraki MR access points, MS switches, and MX security appliances, the Meraki Gaming Center was born. Students can now receive full-ride scholarships to join the Illinois College eSports team, a part of the school’s overall athletics program.
Think you can go back to college for your Mario Kart skills? Probably not. But when incoming students start pressuring your college or university to provide an eSports team, will you have the network to support it?
Watch the webinar recording with Illinois College CIO and Assistant CIO, Marc Benner and Patrick Brown, to hear how they are supporting their eSports program with Meraki. They also have a full-stack Meraki solution that supports all students and teachers on-campus, complete with access points, switches, security appliances, security cameras, and endpoint management, for a robust network for all students. You will even see a demo of their Meraki dashboard.