When I first got into gaming, I was so excited that I joined my school’s club, practised endlessly and then bailed on my first event.
My passion for video games and ambition to compete couldn’t overcome the intimidation of entering a space that was — and still is — largely male-dominated. Thankfully, with friends’ support and personal resolve, I regrouped, got gaming and have stayed immersed in it ever since.
So when I arrived at Durham College last week to become manager of the new eSports Gaming Arena — a state-of-the-art gamers’ paradise that opens next month — I had to pinch myself.
With this venue, Durham College is establishing itself as an undisputed leader in one of the fastest-growing industries in the gaming market. When our students, alumni and employee gamers step inside, they will have access to 46 Lenovo Legion gaming PCs featuring the highest-quality graphics available and IRL-streaming capabilities, plus six gaming console stations.
Beyond being the campus gaming hub and training ground for the Durham Lords eSports varsity team, the arena will also be a living lab.
Thanks to its industry-grade design, it will provide students from programs as diverse as sports business management, to radio broadcasting, to computer systems technology, and more, with vital hands-on experience to prepare them for career success in the global eSports market that is on track to exceed $1.6 billion by 2021.
While the business of eSports continues to grow at a dizzying pace, the excitement of competition and sense of community remain at the core of this world that I love.
However, that’s not to say it’s a community without faults. The dark clouds of sexism and bullying still loom, which is why it’s so important to me that in taking leadership in eSports, Durham College is proactively addressing these issues through conversation, education and intentional, inclusive practices.
The magic of gaming lies in the space it creates where you can do anything you can imagine. With the eSports Gaming Arena, the school is creating a space for those like me who only ever dreamed that their passion could become a career.
— Sarah Wagg is the manager of the eSports Gaming Arena at Durham College.