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Esports for the Braves

Esports are at the forefront of the next generation of gaming culture here on campus, participated in by individuals with aspirations of becoming a part of a cutting edge legacy. Esports promise noble ideals, but for Bradley, these dreams are not quite a reality. There’s certainly a gap between this and the current efforts to bring esports to our university.

Julie Howe, director of residential living and student conduct, and Griffin Kemp, a junior interactive media major, are a part of the growing number of faculty and students behind this effort to deliver on this esports dream. Kemp founded the Bradley Esports Committee for the purpose of growing the esports community here at Bradley. Originally, it was a concept that wasn’t meant to live beyond a successful proposal.

“The one thing I feel that is super unique to Bradley’s esports community is that we don’t necessarily have a whole esports club,” Kemp said.

This can be for better or for worse. There’s a reason why other schools may develop a single esports club. The nature of each game fosters very individualized populations. Players develop strong loyalties to their gaming communities.

“We don’t want to consolidate those communities because people are already attached to the communities that they grew up with,” Kemp said.

It’s become an important foundation to the way that Kemp describes running the committee: less of an all-in-one gaming hub and more of a student union for other clubs to rally around.

Bradley, however, isn’t focused on community; it, like most educational institutions, is focused on value. What can the university get out of an investment into esports?

“A lot of the value added is going to be from recruitment opportunities and growing messages of Bradley in many different communities and populations,” Howe said.

If Bradley develops an esports program, it will serve as a recruitment factor for many in the gaming community. Both Howe and Kemp share the sentiment that a strong community is an essential part of esports.

Right now the goal has been focused around building this foundational exposure.

“I want to make sure that the people who have the decision making ability have the information to make it happen,” Howe said.

Even if esports is not the most important organization on campus, it’s a way to engage a diverse and vibrant student culture that may not have a place on campus otherwise. No small wonder can go anywhere without the dreams and convictions of the people who support it. One day, esports might be a wonder all on its own.

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