MAGNOLIA, Ark. (KTAL/KMSS) – It has been a year since the Esports Gaming Hub was brought to the campus of Southern Arkansas University.

The program now has about 13 teams with a total of 100 members.

“Me and a few other students got together and we started building eSports program and with the help of Ms. Sandra Martin over there we have really turned it into something we can really be proud of here at SAU,” Esports Gaming Captain and student Jackson Hill said.

Students like Jackson say they developed a passion for playing games at a young age. Just like any other skill or talent- the goal is to perfect their craft and make a career out of it.

“I think the students are seeing that they can take the things that they love to do and make it something that they get paid to do or have a career, So I think we’re seeing a lot more of our students be able to take their passions and make them relevant in everyday life,” said Sandra Martin, Esports Advisor.

Students say they spend about 20 hours a week playing games and preparing for tournaments where thousands of people compete.

Alex, an Esports captain says it’s more than just playing games, this program creates networking opportunities.

“It’s getting out and doing the art competitions online. Having a portfolio and showing off your work and going to the conventions where you can talk to people and get to know people.”

The team hosts weekly practices and study hall sessions so that each teammate can keep their grades above the 2.0 minimum GPA requirement.

Students in the Esports gaming program are also offered housing in the honors dorms.

“We’re a program where we are requiring academics. We require academic excellence to participate if you don’t make the grades then you’re not on the team,” said Martin.

In addition to the Game Animation Design major and ESports Gaming Hub, the school now offers a game design minor for students to become more well-rounded in this field.

To learn more about the gaming program email: esports@saumag.edu or visit the Southern Arkansas University website.

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