NSU opens Esports venue with ribbon cutting

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NSU Esports supporters from the university, the Natchitoches community and others attended a ribbon cutting for the university’s new Esports venue. On the front row from left are Natchitoches Mayor Ronnie Williams, School Board Member Steven Harris, Chamber of Commerce President Laura Lyles, NSU personnel Patric Dubois, Jason Stelly, Reatha Cox, Dr. Chris Maggio, Chance Creppel, Frances Conine, Jace Gentry and Ron Wright. On the back row are Van Erikson, gamers Matthew Gamble, Jackson Weldon, Evan Ellis and Patrick Murr, Alan Pasch and Kenn Babin of SBB Architects.

NATCHITOCHES – Northwestern State University officially opened a state of the art Esports venue Friday, the largest of its kind in Louisiana. The Esports venue is located in Room 122 of the Sylvan Friedman Student Union, a large space that was formerly the campus bookstore. Competitive Esports is a club sport administered through the WRAC, but the facility is open to all students for recreational gaming.

Esports are video games that are played in a highly organized competitive environment. Games can range from popular, team-oriented multiplayer online battle arenas to single player first person competitions, survival battles or virtual reconstructions of physical sports.  The concept of Esports at NSU began at the beginning of Dr. Chris Maggio’s tenure as president when student focus groups put forth suggestions on what campus amenities prospective students would find attractive.

The venue was developed through the collaboration of several offices at NSU, including Student Services, IT, Physical Plant, WRAC and many others, along with SBB Architects of Shreveport. The 3,500 square foot lounge is designed with 24 fully equipped computers, multiple consoles and seating that can be reconfigured for competitive and recreational gaming. The space also includes a competitive stage, a broadcast space for competitive events with camera switching equipment and space for play by play commentating.  The design is intentionally student-focused and built with expansion in mind.

Esports at NSU ties in with academics through the development of an esports management concentration in the business administration degree program. It also creates opportunities for students in new media, journalism and communication arts to livestream events, interview players and generate exposure for teams and the university.

Chance Creppel, assistant director of club sports, is Esports coach and will coordinator competitions for the NSU teams and tournaments planned for the near future.  Scholarships are available to competitive players.  NSU recently signed a graduating senior from Alexandria as its very first scholarship player and will soon sign an online student who will compete remotely.

NSU is one of the newest members of the National Association of College Esports, a nonprofit association that has award $15 million in scholarships and aid since its formation in July 2016. With the new facility and ever-growing interest from students, NSU stands to be a contender in tournaments right away.

The Esports venue is open from noon-9 p.m. daily.  Creppel said he plans to host a combine soon for high school juniors and seniors to play games and learn more about esports at NSU. Students interested in joining a team should visit www.nsula.edu/esports or contact Creppel at creppelc@nsula.edu.