GREAT FALLS — Clicks from a video game controller, friendly banter, and working hard to stay alive in a virtual world - those are the sights and sounds of esports. The University of Providence is becoming more competitive in the world of collegiate esports, or competitive video gaming.
"When I saw this was going to be a thing here in Great Falls, my own hometown, I got super excited. I applied and I was over the moon when they said that I could be a part of it,” UP senior Logan Stene said.
"I've kind of been playing video games all my life. I never thought I'd be able to play them at a level of competition, so that kind of drew me here,” UP junior Dante Montgomery said.
Stene and Montgomery are two of many UP students participating in the university's esports program.
Started in 2018 as a varsity sport, it was turned into a club in 2019 when the coach left.
An advisor, Michael Ruiz, has now been found so the university announced this week UP Esports has rejoined the National Association of Collegiate Esports.
"In the last month, we've made a lot of progress,” Ruiz said. "Along with that, we've added five new game titles. So now we have a total of nine games we are playing."
Ruiz is excited to be the advisor and is wasting no time trying to grow the program.
"It's been really good reaching out to students who are interested in different games in Esports. It's shown the students that we care about things that make them happy, things they enjoy, and I thought it was really good to bring that back,” said Ruiz.
While some people may say you're playing a game with them calling video gaming a sport, Montgomery, who also plays soccer, and Stene respectfully disagree and say time spent with a controller in hand is not time wasted.
"There's plenty of crossover. As a goalkeeper, it relies heavily on reflexes. Hand-eye coordination in the Esports room obviously transfers over to goalkeeping skills out there on the soccer field, and leadership. A goalkeeper has to manage his back line and the rest of the field. He sees it all. Communicating with. your teammates is very important to win games in the Esports room,” Montgomery said.
"There's physical benefits like better hand-eye coordination (and) better reflexes and there's also the fact that you build leadership and community-style skills that you normally wouldn't have just going to class and going back to your dorm room,” Stene said.
The UP varsity esports season will begin in January of 2022 and run through May.