Celebrating 100 years with MSU Texas: Gaming and esports

Published: Dec. 8, 2022 at 6:53 PM CST
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - News Channel 6 is celebrating a century with Midwestern State University, and we’re continuing our tribute to the university’s past, present and future by taking a look into the world of gaming through the state-of-the-art Esports and Gaming Lounge in Legacy Hall.

The MSU Texas esports and gaming clubs bring together students who share a passion for video games. It all started in August of 2021. The Gaming Club is more recreational.

“That’s for students who use gaming as a way to connect with other people, have fun, grow relationships, things like that,” Zachary Zoet, MSU Texas esports and gaming coordinator, said. “That’s all kinds of games like tabletop gaming, video gaming, stuff like that.”

While the Esports Club is more competitive.

“These are students who might find playing video games fun, but really, they use video games as an outlet for competitive expression and mastery over things,” Zoet said. “They have that competitive itch, that competitive drive and so that’s how they relate to gaming.”

Students must try out for varsity-level titles. If they make the team, they are supported with scholarships, professional coaching, jerseys and paid entry to tournaments.

“I think the university historically has done a really good job at offering avenues to find yourself in social clubs, rec sports, athletics, but there’s been kind of a gap in opportunities for students that are a little more nerdy,” Zoet said. “So, I think us creating spaces for people to find and connect with persons like them, set lofty goals together, and work really hard to reach them is a awesome thing we do.”

“A while ago we had a big event here called Hyperbeam and there, we had a tournament where this dad brought his 15-year-old kid here to compete in one of the games,” Overwatch 2 player Erik Gonzalez said. “I just think just knowing there’s support and there’s a field in something that somebody can love doing like as a hobby that they can transform into something that is beneficial to them down the line, I think it’s so important, just so nice to have.”

Competitively-supported titles include Rocket League, Smash Brothers, Apex Legends, Valorant and Overwatch 2.

“You learn a lot of things honestly,” Rocket League player Jacob Mitchell said. “It’s even like sports like when you play football or anything, you learn life things and I’d say you learn from this too. Just like the hardships and the amount of work you have to put in to be able to compete at such a high level.”

“Stuff that like applies to college, education and our esports careers, deadlines are still important,” Rocket League player Zack Rallis said. “Repetition, training, practicing, stuff like that equates to things like studying and preparing for a test the same way we would for like a game or something like that. A lot of skills are pretty transparent between the two.”

The clubs also have collaborations with other esports teams, like those at Rider High School.

“We reached out to Rider this week because we know they’re in the playoffs,” Zoet said. “We’re excited for them. They’re our home high school team, so we’ve offered our support to help them practice for their playoffs. We have good relationships with the local esports high schools. I would say a lot of them end up coming here just because of those relationships we build. But I think the recruitment part just happens because they see what we’re doing here, but it’s more about the partnership.”

And as MSU Texas celebrates its 100-year anniversary, everyone is looking forward to the future of the esports and gaming clubs.

“I kind of just think Midwestern-wise, we are laying the groundwork through trial and error for other people to come in in later years and flourish,” Mitchell said.

“I feel like the centennial marks a moment for us to really reflect on where we’ve been, but more importantly where we’re going as an institution,” Zoet said. “I am really excited to work somewhere where we’re contemporary but also forward thinking. I think being mindful of all kinds of students, all kinds of avenues to discover yourself, reach for big dreams and goals. I think that’s something MSU does really well, and I think esports and gaming is the perfect example of us being forward thinking, and I hope the next 100 years keep looking like the last year here.”

All MSU Texas centennial celebration stories can be found by clicking here.

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