Digital Gaming Offers a Campus Connection during COVID-19

UAlbany launched its first official competitive video-gaming team last November.

ALBANY, N.Y. (Sept. 15, 2020) – With many sports leagues across the world suspended or delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is one competition that has undoubtedly remained safe to play in our current reality – video games.

A March survey of video gamers in the U.S. reported they were spending 45 percent more time playing now than before the pandemic. Likewise, Twitch, an online streaming site to watch or broadcast gameplay, has seen engagement more than double in 2020.

At UAlbany, eSports is a go for the fall semester. The team joined the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) last fall and is already looking to build on multiple ECAC league championships, a medal-winning finish at Lake Placid’s Empire State Winter Games and a second place finish in the first SUNY Chancellor Esports Challenge that netted $5,000 for the University’s Student Emergency Fund.

The College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity (CEHC) is also virtually hosting a weekly campus game night this semester. During it, you can meet new friends and battle in video games such as League of Legends, Madden NFL 2021 and Fortnite, along with various other trivia and tabletop games that do not require a gaming console.

All members of the campus community (including alumni) are invited to participate via Discord every Thursday night from 7 to 9 p.m. No gaming experience required.

CEHC game night graphic

CEHC game nights are hosted every Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m.

“Esports and digital gaming provide many positive elements to our campus community,” said Michael Leczinsky, UAlbany eSports director/head coach and a CEHC professor of practice. “The University’s competitive team is complimented by our academic offerings, internships and a new micro-credential in eSports that provide students with opportunities not only to study this growing industry, but also develop hands-on skills that enable them to work towards a career in the field.”

“I grew up playing video games, like many others. But it never occurred to me that it could be a valid job path until I got involved with UAlbany’s eSports program as a student,” added Matt Tyler, a recent CEHC graduate and now the college’s Emerging Technology Lab assistant. “Video games are continuing to become more accessible and reaching larger audiences. Our weekly game night is a great example of this.”

Sophomore Eric Marsden was among the first of more than 100 competitive video-gamers on UAlbany’s eSports team last year. He’s a co-captain this year for the Madden team and an emerging technology intern at CEHC.

After making the hard decision to learn remotely, Marsden said that video games have kept him connected to his friends (and professors) on campus.

“As an intern for the college, I have been charged with helping to set up and promote our weekly game night,” said Marsden, a dual major in Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity and Spanish. “It is a great way to network and socialize. Even though I am home this semester, I still feel like I am engaged with our UAlbany community.”

UAlbany eSports is actively recruiting for the fall semester through this Friday. The team is co-ed and open to all majors and class years. Link to application.

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About the University at Albany
A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany-SUNY offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciencesbusiness, public health, health sciences, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.