WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Midwestern State University joined the esports game in 2021 with a successful first season and the promise of a new gaming lounge and expanded opportunities for students in the future.
The mission of the MSU Texas Esports teams is to compete at the varsity level with other schools, earn scholarships (funded through the Student Affairs Division), wear team jerseys and operate much like other teams on campus.
There will also be opportunities for shoutcasters (announcers). Recreationally, there are also great relationship-building opportunities for those who simply love gaming as a hobby and want to join Stangs Gaming Club.
“We want to meet our students where they’re at,” said Zach Zoet, assistant director at the counseling center. “We want students to gain those marketable skills (for the eSports industry), and we want them to compete at the highest level.”
“I think the Fall went great. We had our first esports tournament on campus, with 44 registrants competing,” Zoet said. “We had our first Gaming Club event on campus with Stangs Gaming Club, which had 30 people come to hang out and play Halloween-themed games. We’ve also just hit over 200 members in our discord server that we use to organize events and our teams.”
Derrell Crawford, president of MSU Texas Esports, is excited about the chance for gamers to have opportunities to learn on campus and learn skills to benefit them as they enter the professional gaming scene.
MSU Texas Esports and Stangs Gaming club share a Discord server. It’s the best way for gamers to get connected and learn about the organizations and upcoming events. Gamers can gather and play tabletop games or card games, too.
What MSU Texas didn’t want to do, Zoet said, is have students coming to campus for class and retreating to their dorm rooms without realizing that many others around them shared interests.
“The team is about developing those marketable skills, and the club organization is for casual play and relationship building,” Zoet said.
Kate Morgan, a sophomore mechanical engineering major and leader in the Stangs Gaming Club, said gaming was a “lifelong passion” for her, and it was also a way to connect with her father when he came back from a deployment in the Army.
She said 150 or more have participated in the fall semester and looks forward to the growth of Esports at MSU Texas.
“When I got here last year, I felt isolated, but I’ve made about 20 friends through gaming, and we’ve been playing a bunch of different games,” Morgan said. “I could see the potential for this to bring students together. Our mission is to expand and be a gathering place for people who are new to campus. For people to meet up and make friends and just enjoy playing games together.”
The competitive teams and the Stangs Gaming Club are looking forward to the completion of the gaming lounge at Legacy Hall, scheduled for December with a public opening in January.
“I think it’s going to be a major attraction for the university,” Morgan said. “People like to play games and get connected. And I hope they decide to put something in the student center, too. The administration has given us a lot of support. This can attract new students.”
The esports team has launched five competitive esports teams – two in Rocket League, two in Apex Legends, and one in Smash Brothers.
“We are looking to launch one or two more in the spring,” Zoet said. “We also have an exciting partnership with Texoma eSports to provide coaching and consulting for our eSports players starting in spring as well.”
Zoet also praised the university leadership for embracing this venture.
“A lot of gamers on campus have friends, friends they’ve met online in other areas. We want them to get together and to identify as Mustangs. In the past, we had gamers on campus who never realized they had that shared identity.”