BISMARCK, N.D. - E-Sports used to be something to do outside of class. But at Bismarck State College, they've dedicated a room in the Student Union to make gaming an in-school activity.
Over the summer BSC announced they were launching a new E-Sports program that would feed into the Computer Science program. They're finding this program is much more popular than anticipated.
Just a few months ago, there was a room in the basement of the Student Union consisting of some chairs and signage. But today, it is a fully-furnished E-Sports lab where students can practice their gaming skills for school-sanctioned tournaments.
"It's a great feeling because we started on this just last summer and we hit it hard. We had a lot of people working together trying to get this set up, and it finally came to fruition. And so it's really nice," said Buster Gillis, BSC athletic director.
One of the students hoping to improve their game is Macauley Young, a dual athlete. As in he's in the E-Sports program, and is also a member of the BSC basketball team.
"My basketball coach said we're getting an E-Sports, 'Anybody on our team play video games?' Me and Chris Demuth were super interested right away and just hopped right on and haven't looked back," Young said
Other students are finding themselves earning leadership skills they wouldn't receive in their normal fields. Taking something they love and applying it to school.
Aidyn Fernandez is a pre-veterinarian medicine student, and now serves as captain for the League of Legends squad.
"It feels as though we are leading the frontier for a completely new development. It feels like we are the Vanguard and we are really just taking the first steps to really getting this out there and it feels amazing," Fernandez said.
As part of the furnishings, BSC acquired five of the 120 chairs used in the Fortnite Tournament where the champion won $3 million. Gillis said he likes to think that champion used one of the chairs now in the new lab.
The teams are just practicing their talents for the time being, but they hope to qualify and host tournaments in the coming spring.