Personal Best: Competitive Video Gaming Builds Confidence, Sense Of Community

Jul 2, 2020

by Greg Williams
Publications Editor
Originally appeared in Southern News Magazine

Carson, a 2017 alumnus who is now head coach for Florida Southern’s pioneering esports program, is eager to change those misperceptions. 

He notes, for example, that while community-focused aspects of the esports program are overseen by Student Life, the competitive side of the program is operated by the Athletics Department. This connection, together with Coach Carson’s focused guidance and encouragement, ensures that his 17-person roster of players will maintain a strong commitment to good health and fitness. They even go through the same concussion protocols as students who play baseball, basketball, lacrosse, and the other team sports.

“Probably our biggest supporters on campus are the men’s soccer team,” said esports team member Josh Morgan from Brandon, Miss.

“They’ll hang out in the arena, play games, and enjoy the environment,” Coach Carson added.“ Our arena space is available to all of our student body whenever we’re not practicing or competing, and there are regular events like tournaments and watch parties.”

All of the competitors on Coach Carson’s player roster are committed to making a mark in the expanding world of collegiate electronic sports. They play four different team-based games in league play, all of which require a high degree of cooperative problem solving: “Hearthstone,” a fast-paced strategy card game; “League of Legends,” a battle arena action/strategy game; “Overwatch,” a near- future fighting game featuring a disbanded global peacekeeping task force; and “Rocket League,” succinctly described by Coach Carson as “soccer with a car.”

By working together as teammates and forming bonds with other students, FSC’s esports players are making real strides that should pay off when they enter the workplace, as potential employers take notice of their increasingly marketable technical prowess, paired with necessary social skills.

“Being a part of the team gives you a lot of skills that you’ll carry with you,” said William James, a computer science major from Atlanta, Ga. “Working with different kinds of people and coming together to achieve a common goal, everybody brings their own unique strengths."

FSC’s competitive gamers take all aspects of their sport seriously, whether competing as team members in the esports arena or while practicing on their own, in their free time at home.

"We have one guy, if he played football, he would be Tom Brady," Coach Carson said. "He’s that dedicated."