By: Connor Boyd

Esports and electronic video game competitions at the collegiate level are rising in popularity as more universities in Canada are creating official esports teams.

U Sports, the governing body of 56 Canadian university athletics programs, recently signed a three-year contract with CSL Esports to develop stronger collegiate programs across the country. 

CSL Esports works with colleges and universities to help build successful esports programs, something Red River College could explore in the future.

Adam Huybers, president of the Bits & Bytes Association at RRC, said prior to 2020 there were preliminary talks of an esports program at the school, but the process has slowed since most classes have remained online.

Bits & Bytes, a student-run club focusing on the applied computer education department members, has been hosting community game nights through their Discord server.

“It’s a drop-in, drop-out kind of thing, but it’s probably the absolute best way to get to know people,” Huybers explained. 

Huybers said Bits & Bytes has become a meeting spot, of sorts, for students while learning remotely. The game nights have a lot of success at getting students to interact with one another.

Bits & Bytes game nights are now online with classes staying online./CONNOR BOYD

Huybers said the next step is to start hosting small, local esports events.

“I really hope we are going to find the right match of people [to lead these events] and then, with support from the college, really take it to the next level.”

As esports boom, more career possibilities are emerging for players, from casting and commentary, to behind-the-scenes roles like coaching or organizing.

But the benefits don’t just start after school.

Richard Roberts, a school division technologies integration consultant in Winnipeg, says esports programs across Manitoba are helping students find success in the classroom.

“If a student feels welcomed at school, and that school is a place for them, their performance in school will increase,” Roberts said. 

Roberts said esports can provide students a valuable experience and that’s why schools are investing in it.

Information on the Bits & Bytes game nights and Discord channel is available on Twitter (@RRCBBA).