Global gaming craze comes to Staffordshire

"There's a huge community of computer gamers out there but we often isolate ourselves, playing video games at home in our bedrooms. This is great opportunity to come together to celebrate gaming, have fun and meet like-minded people."

Greg Storey, Staffordshire University graduate

One of the world's fastest growing sports is coming to Staffordshire this week as students compete in the first ever Staffs vs Keele eSports Varsity.

Competitive computer gaming, known as eSports, is hugely popular across Europe and Asia with events often played in sell-out stadiums. It is rapidly growing in the UK and Staffordshire University graduate Greg Storey is championing the sport.

Since graduating Greg has co-founded technology company Aspartech, which is dedicated to making computing faster, and has secured sponsorship from major computer games companies including Microsoft Xbox and Overclockers to support an eSports Varsity at Staffordshire University's LRV on Sunday 7 May.

He said: “I had a great time studying here and have always been keen to stay involved with the University. Staffs is a great place for gaming and is really pushing itself in the realms of technology with the new facilities here in Stoke. For me, this is the perfect place for eSports.”

The free event is open to the public and will see competitors from Staffordshire University and Keele University play six popular computer games, including Super Smash Bros, Counter Strike and Overwatch.

Visitors will be able to try out the latest gaming technology and Microsoft Xbox is offering an exclusive chance to play six brand new unreleased games.

It has recently been announced that eSports will be an official medal sport at the 2022 Asian Games and many expect that it will eventually become part of the Olympic Games. In recognition of the importance of eSports, Computer Games academics at Staffordshire University have created a new module dedicated understanding the industry.

Dr Bobbie Fletcher, Head of the Games and Visual Effects, said: “The module which is available to students on our Games Studies course is a fascinating branch of cultural studies. It looks at the national, and international market for eSports, and the cultural aspects that drive it as well as the darker side of cheating and doping by eSports players. Games designers are growing up and that brings with it new trends in gaming which comes with its own set of ethical dilemmas.”

“Plans to grow the UK as an eSports hub brings huge opportunities in job creation and we are well placed as a University to explore that.”

The eSports Varsity will also feature Cartoon and Comic Arts students selling their wares and Greg wants to grow the event into a convention for computing and comic fans.

“Hopefully this is just the beginning. I want to make the event even bigger and better next year and eventually start up a national university eSports league.” he explained.

”There's a huge community of computer gamers out there but we often isolate ourselves, playing video games at home in our bedrooms. This is great opportunity to come together to celebrate gaming, have fun and meet like-minded people.”

The eSports Varsity takes place from 10:00am - 6:30pm on Sunday 7 May at the LRV, Staffordshire University, Leek Rd, ST4 2DF.

Find more information here - https://www.staffsunion.com/esportsvarsity/

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