What is Esports?

Explore the world of competitive online gaming happening at colleges across the globe.
In this Section

History of Esports

In 1972, students at Stanford University got together to play in a video game competition for the 1962 video game called Spacewar. Dubbed as the Intergalactic Spacewar Olympics, 24 students competed in matches for the ultimate grand prize: A 12-month subscription to Rolling Stone Magazine. Almost five decades later, this event is looked back as the world's first esports tournament. 

Esports continued to grow through the 80's, and saw its first boom in the 1990s with the growing popularity of PC gaming. Games like Quake (1996) and Starcraft (1998) saw thousands of players competing in tournaments each year. Esports growth exploded into the 21st Century with games like League of Legends and the livestreaming service Twitch, both of which remain hugely influential to this day.

Esports Goes to College

In 2014, Robert Morris University became the first college in the United States to offer esports in varsity athletics. Other colleges quickly followed suit, and in 2016 the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) was established at the nation's first Collegiate Esports Summit in Kansas City, MO. What began with seven institutions now features more than 170 NACE institutions set to compete in 2020-2021 academic year.

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National map of all NACE schools set to compete in 2020. / Image provided by NAC Esports.