College Esports: A Player's Perspective

College Esports: A Player's Perspective


Hello, everyone! I’m Felicia Sparozic, but you probably know me as Fellybishh. I’m a doctoral candidate conducting research on the Bioarchaeology of Care at the University of Montana. My research is an extension of my master’s thesis, where I tested the Index of Care (a Bioarchaeology method) using historical and modern individuals from the Smithsonian’s Terry Collection. I’ve developed specific methods for both historical and modern cases (modern defined as 1950 to today). This method aims to model how individuals were cared for using human skeletal remains, contributing to the documentation of disability and caregiving in archaeological records.

In March 2018, I started streaming from my Xbox as a way to aid my recovery from a traumatic brain injury. The recommended vision therapy was either too childish or too dull, so I found a way to make it engaging. Streaming and gaming helped me work on cognitive skills, and having chat’s support made the journey enjoyable. Chat stood by me throughout my journey from applying to graduate school to completing my PhD.

After completing my masters someone in the cohort told me about the University’s esports team. I reached out to the team members and coach. When I found out about the Apex legends team, I tried out and was able to become varsity team captain of the Apex Legends Maroon team. There were two teams maroon and silver. We played in the collegiate apex league called the Spark Series. Playing in the league taught me many skills that are applicable even outside of gaming

Entering the world of college esports and gaming was initially overwhelming. Learning gaming terminology and mastering the specific game, emphasizing clear and concise communication for successful comms, and developing skills applicable outside gaming were part of the learning process. Balancing my PhD studies with esports as a graduate student alongside undergraduate teammates presented unique challenges.

As a varsity player, maintaining a specific GPA and dedicating 20 weekly hours to the game were expected. My schedule included PhD classes, research, practice, editing clips for social media, and more research. Striking a balance between academics and esports demanded hard work. Playing esports at the varsity level is an intense experience. Here’s some advice for those considering college esports and esports in general:

  • Develop and Level up your skill! Learn the most you can about the game including the lore! Learning the lore of the game can make those hours of grinding more fun. Plus a lot of clubs on campus love to do trivia as a game night (sometimes for free groceries too) and the lure can score you a prize! The most important thing is to be consistent in practicing and working to improve in your game of choice. Love of the games mechanics and lore along with skill can separate you from others trying out for the same team. 
  • Research the program AND the school! It is important that not only the esports program is what you want but that the school has a major you are interested in. If you are undecided about what to major in make sure there’s a few majors that you can see yourself in while playing esports at the school. Academics play a huge role in staying on the team to play the game you love.
  • Give esports a test run! If you are unsure if you can keep up with competitive gaming try to check out online or local competitions for your game. Not only will you gain experience but you might win some titles that could help you land a spot on the team! It also might be helpful to play in competitions to prepare you for the school tryouts. 
  • Create a media kit and work on building a personal brand to set yourself apart from the others. Media kits and highlight reels should always be ready for college esports but also opportunities in esports. 
  • Be mindful of your tone when communicating through the many different mediums available to us (text, voice chat, video chat, etc).  It is easy for people to misinterpret what is said without being able to see facial expressions or voice inflections. When gaming and in a stressful situation it is important to be mindful of the tone you are using to communicate with teammates because it can directly impact the mental headspace teammates are in and have physical in game consequences. Everyone knows how easy it can be to full tilt after a few bad games so this tip is crucial. 
  • Learn to schedule or time block. Scheduling or even just writing down what was on the agenda for the day can help you in so many ways! It can help you get out of a rut when you write down everything you did that day or even during a practice session (you probably don’t realize how much you’ve done or contributed). In order to play on the university team it is important to maintain good grades in order to play.
  • Keep an open mind. The world of gaming and esports is always expanding and shifting. Keeping up can seem daunting so its best to keep an open mind to welcome all opportunities that may come your way! Being able to be flexible and adapt to the different situations in game and school will help you navigate tough times.

There are so many more amazing tid bits of advice I’ve learned along the way through the power of networking. Be sure to use all the tools out there including LinkedIn for networking and advancing your career after college! The varsity experience can be difficult in many different ways but having the right mindset is the key to success in the face of adversity. It’s also important to learn to give yourself the space to grow to make the most of the opportunities presented to you! I really hope you gained some insight and you got some tidbit of information that you can use as we head into the new semester. If you’d like to hear more about my experiences let me know in the comments.