WMU Kicks Off Esports Camps For Youth

Jul 8, 2019

Campers watch a jumbotron at WMU Esports camp.
Credit Taylor Pace / WMUK

There’s playing video games in a basement with a friend, and then there’s playing competitively online while streaming the video for thousands of people. That’s what it means to play Esports. Western Michigan University is holding its first Esports camps for middle and high schoolers this summer.

Esports (pronounced e-sports) is now a billion-dollar industry. Some people get paid to compete. But at Western’s camps, the emphasis is on having fun and learning life skills.

Western Esports Camp Senior Director Scott Puckett says the kids at this camp grew up with these games.

“What we’re doing is teaching them how they can be better at it, how they can communicate, how they can lead with it.” 

The kids aren’t just playing on monitors in a makeshift room somewhere. They’re playing in Western’s Little Theater, which the University has transformed into an ESports Arena. The students play on the stage with instructions from counselors. Over lunch, they sit in the arena seats and watch streaming video games on a jumbotron.

Jack Dillon is one of the campers. He says he normally plays outside with his friends, but coming to the camp he is learning different skills:

Gaming stations on the stage at the Esports arena
Credit Taylor Pace / WMUK

“For the video games, you’re learning how to play them and like how to communicate and how to work with friends,” he said.

Molly Redmond has a son at ESports camp. She says it’s a good exercise in teamwork.

“And have that mindset of, ‘I’m going to get better and I’m not going to rage quit’ and there lots of things that could apply to later in life,” she said.

Western is planning to hold ESports events for the public in the fall.