West Plains, Mo. – E-Sports will find a new home on the campus of Missouri State University, West Plains. Ozark Radio News spoke with Alex Pinnon, who curates and trains this new program.

If you’re not sure what esports is or how important the numbers are, listen to our interview below:

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Transcription:

Dan Williams:

It’s Dan here with Ozark Radio News. And I’m talking here to Alex Pinnon about the recent creation of an MSU West Plains esports program. Alex, can you tell us a bit more about this?

Alex Pinon:

Yes. Esports is probably considered the fastest growing sport in the world. In the past few years, it has reached a billion dollar industry and there have been nearly 500 million viewers worldwide. And so it has become a very attractive idea for many students who are looking for a way to get involved in college, but also find opportunities to increase their education as they go and their financial aid as they go. that they advance. Many people don’t realize that the big four-year institutions are starting to offer full scholarships to students coming out of two-year colleges. Thus, our program will give students the opportunity to be seen on the national stage. They will be broadcast nationally by the NJCAAE. And this will give them opportunities to be recruited. And even on campus, we will have the possibility for students to receive scholarships, to play in the different teams.

Alex Pinon:

And so some people may ask, “What is esports?” And so esports, quite simply, is a competitive game. And I can sometimes understand some reluctance of students playing video games. I grew up playing video games and I remember people sometimes saying it was a waste or whatever, but I think esports, like any other sport, is a competition of the spirit. It won’t just be about students sitting around playing games. Rather, we are going to promote leadership skills, communication skills. Like I said, it’s often a battle of wits. Understand the strategy, try to understand what your teammates are thinking while doing it. It’s something that, again, just like other sports, unites players, and we see the best of the best, often competing through strategy and an understanding of the sport itself.

Alex Pinon:

And so we will operate under the guidelines of the NJCAAE and they will sponsor several titles that students can join. So we’ll have titles like Rocket League, Madden Football, NBA 2K, FIFA, Valorant Overwatch, Super Smash Brothers, and a variety of Call of Duty titles as well. And so it will give students a chance to play on multiple rosters, play with multiple teammates. And we will be competing with schools across the country. These tournaments may offer cash prizes. In the professional world, these cash prizes can run into the millions of dollars. At the college level, it probably won’t be that much, but there will always be opportunities to have those prize money.

Dan Williams:

Now I know there’s a lot of stigma to this sort of thing. And even the people listening right now aren’t necessarily convinced of the merits of this kind of sport. But I mean, even in my experience having seen this kind of thing develop years ago, there was a big tournament set up for a certain series of games that we talked about, and that was In the early years of esports, there was a prize that basically equates to the winning team getting $1 million for each member who managed to win that World Series. And it was posted on ESPN. It attracted millions of viewers worldwide. And that, as an industry, is just proving to expand beyond anyone’s expectation. And it may seem like everyone is just sitting around playing games, but I’ve personally seen, and even personally experienced, how much strategy, organization, and teamwork are really needed to compete in these sessions. It is almost the same as practicing a physical sport. You need to take the time to fully understand your steps. And I’m sure you’ve seen a lot too, haven’t you?

Alex Pinon:

Yeah, absolutely. As if to say, to agree with you, I mean, there have been some of these championships that have had more viewers than the NBA Finals. And to see what some of these students can do, some of these athletes can do within this digital realm, I think that will surprise a lot of people. And again we will have rooms where people can watch the players live, but again we will also have a room that will broadcast them nationally. And I think there’s so much attention on it right now that we’d hate to fall behind as universities and institutions across the country, again, open up these programs, attracting students. Where big schools like USC, Cornell, whether it’s the Ivy League or big public schools offer all these great opportunities. And with that comes a bigger industry behind it.

Alex Pinon:

So there will be opportunities in the future for our university to offer degrees and certificates around communications, sports casting. There will be a variety of jobs that will pop up around this sport. And so students will have the opportunity, not only to potentially bring money and scholarships, but to find sustainable careers that can be part of this sport, but also affect other parts of the industry.

Dan Williams:

That pretty much covers most of it. I don’t think I personally had any doubts about whether or not this type of industry will be successful in the future. But I’m curious though, moving forward yourself, what kind of projects are you and your team going to focus on first? I know you already have a small list of games you have planned, but are there any programs you are considering or tournaments or even specific games you want to focus on, in particular?

Alex Pinon:

Well, it will all depend on the interest of the students. I think the biggest interest right now is in Super Smash Brothers, Rocket League, and some of the Call of Duty titles. What we are beginning to establish, now we are bringing in students to interview me. We are forming our team this semester. And then in the fall, this coming semester, we’ll be competing in NJCAAE sponsored tournaments. They will have regular seasons, we will have playoffs, we will have championships. And all of this, again, will begin in the fall. So parents and community members will be more than welcome to watch from home or watch some of the biggest league games we have in person.

Dan Williams:

Now this organization that you are going to use for your guidelines and lists of specific games and stuff, how would they find more information about it if they wanted to try to research information on this organization or even participate in This program ?

Alex Pinon:

If we want to get more information about the NJCAAE, you can just go to their website, google the program, they will show their rules, history, types of tournaments they sponsor. And then students and perspective students, maybe there are people who are thinking about where they would like to go to college in the future, they can contact me. They can call me at (417) 255-7965, or email [email protected]

Dan Williams:

Thank you very much for speaking with us, Alex. Before you go ahead and leave here. Are there any other topics you would like to discuss or dedications you would like to share with anyone?

Alex Pinon:

Absoutely. Again, I think sometimes people who play games, who play video games, are stigmatized. And I want to make sure parents understand that there will be codes of conduct. There are academic standards that students must meet. These students will need to be advised by an academic advisor who will ensure that they stay on top of their academic work while participating in the sport.

Dan Williams:

Well, thank you very much for your time, Alex. It was fantastic. And I sincerely look forward to your success here.