Boise State’s student newspaper, The Arbiter, published an article yesterday (Jan. 23-2018) on the esports program, led by EdTech’s Chris Haskell and Brett Shelton. Here’s the article.
By: Daniel Gardner and Tylor Sorensen
Starting in the fall of 2017, Chris Haskell and Brett Shelton made a vision their reality with the creation of the Boise State Broncos Varsity Esports program. At the beginning of the school year the program had a massive search for talent, locating students who play League of Legends, Overwatch, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm and Rocket League. This search has lead to five full teams that have already started competing in various matches.
Chris Haskell, professor of educational technology and now facilitator of the teams, is the mastermind behind the project. Haskell’s facilitating has given the students brand new experiences that they wouldn’t have imagined, including being able to work with professional players online who are acting as coaches, playing in competitive games that are broadcasted online and lastly being a member of a brand new team on campus that has caught the attention of news outlets such as ESPN.
“Looking at other schools involved and popularity of the games I believe this is going to become a big thing in the coming years, almost as big as football and basketball,” Haskel said. “You realize that every once in awhile there is a ‘gold rush’ moment and you should go all in, and this is one of those times.”
Starting their practices 9 a.m., the program has practice four days a week for three hours a day. The program’s practice facility can be found in the Education building. Upon stepping inside, a person finds themselves wrapped up in the world of gaming. The room is filled with computers set up to play the various games the program offers. On a typical Thursday at 9 in the morning the room is already filled with 14 League of Lsegends players waiting to meet up online with one of their coaches who lives in Australia.
Derrek Bryant, a sophomore communications major and member of the League of Legends team, finds time to practice with the team, focus on his school work and play and additional four to five hours of League of Legends a day to keep his skills fresh.
“I have always been good at video games,” Bryant said. “I would always finish the game either the day or a few days after I get a single player game, but with League of Legends, you will continue to learn; even though I have played it for five to six years, I am still learning new things.”
With the goal in mind of getting the players to learn new things within the game, Haskell knew he needed to work directly with the players’ coaches, which also allows him to fall back into the position of facilitator. Scheduling games for the teams and just being around in the background at competitions, giving them casual friendly reminders of what the coaches taught them. As many of the players in their specific game have more experience than Haskell, he knew that finding coaches was crucial to team success.
The experience of the players can be seen in Rocket League captain Issiac Torrero. Torrero, a sophomore GIMM major, has over 1,000 lifetime hours logged into Rocket League. Torrero expressed his happiness about being a member of this program and discussed how, when he came to Boise State, he would not have imagined that he would be a member of one of their sports programs.
“I’m very thankful that Chris and Brett were able to start this, and it is really cool that I am able to participate,” Torrero said.