Ringling College of Art and Design’s esports team, the Ringling Rollers, have officially opened their brand new, on-campus arena. A true game changer for the JV and Varsity teams, the arena provides both practice and competition space, and serves as a communal area for students to gather and build community. The new arena is the only dedicated and high-tech gaming space of its kind in the local area.
Located at the west end of the campus’ Ann and Alfred Goldstein Hall, the arena boasts 1200-square-feet of gaming space complete with:
- 10 state-of-the-art gaming stations
- Lounge viewing and playing area
- 4 console stations, each with 83” TV, XBOX® Series X, Playstation 5, and Nintendo Switch
- PC stations equipped with top gaming equipment and 4090 graphics cards
At the inception of the Ringling College esports program in March 2020, over 100 students joined in on intramural esports games that ranged from Super Smash Brothers® to NBA2K®, Call of Duty®, and more.
In spring 2021, the program grew and three club esports teams were created and held practices in Overwatch®, League of Legends®, and Smash Bros in order to identify one team and game to be most competitive for varsity competition in the Fall 2021 semester.
Fall of 2021, the varsity Ringling Rollers team came to life with their first varsity competitions against colleges such as UCF, Georgia Tech, Winthrop, University of Tennessee, and Kansas State University. Following the first season, the Rollers transitioned to the Open league for better competition, practicing several times a week, and forging better skills and new friendships.
And that practice paid off with the Ringling Rollers winning the Varsity Plus Fall 2022 East Coast Divisional Champs in Super Smash Brothers Ultimate® with a perfect 18-0 record. Earlier this spring, the JV Smash Brothers team won the 2023 East 5 Conference. With their new arena now open for practice and competitions, the Rollers have their sights set on another successful season.
The Fall 2023 Semester Teams include Overwatch, Super Smash Brothers, and Valorant. E Ramey, director of Recreation and Wellness and head of the esports program, confirms that the College is looking to add two more teams, League of Legends and Rocket League. Each member of the Varsity team gets a scholarship, branded jersey, backpack, and scheduled practices in the arena.
Esports, which involves competitive video gaming, has experienced rocket-like growth over the past decade. It has been recognized as an official sport by the Olympic committee, with the inaugural Olympic Esports Week being held in Singapore in June 2023.
The National Association for Collegiate Esports (NACE, of which Ringling College is a member) reports that 170+ member schools have provided more than $16 million in esports scholarships, and esports live-streaming viewership numbers are expected to hit 920.3 million by 2024. (NewZoo 2021 Esports Report). Video gaming is pervasive in the USA, with Pew Research reporting in 2018 that 90 percent of teens, ages 13-17, play video games, and among boys of that age, the percentage was 97 percent.
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