UT Tyler researching correlation between competitive video gaming, student success

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Published: Feb. 23, 2022 at 11:43 PM CST
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Esports are the next big competition that many colleges are starting to study and support. As you walk through the halls of UT Tyler’s Soules College of Business, you’ll see a room filled with concentration, lights, and hear lots of clicking. It’s the new Esports Lab, where students get to game, and professors are studying their skills.

“Esports, like other sports and any other activity on campus, it results in student engagement, and student engagement is very, very highly correlated to GPAs, graduation rates, persistence through school, quality of educational experience that they have,” said Paul Roberts, a professor at Soules College of Business. He is one of three co-principal investigators on this study.

Ashley Daniel is the Program Director for Esports on campus. She said she’s had a passion for the sport for some time. She is mainly in charge of the lab itself.

“We keep it open for general students to come in, check out the PC’s. Then for our teams, they also use it for practices and then also if they have any tournaments that they need to attend,” Daniel said. “This is always going to be open for them to make sure they have a good wi-fi connection and a good set up to really let them perform.”

An initial Presidential Scholarly Research Grant for $14,000 helped launch the initiative. Now they have ten computers and can keep up to date with when students play, what games they’re playing, and for how long.

“The soft skills that often you wouldn’t think about but there are a lot of teamwork, working together because a lot of these sports are team sports,” Roberts said. “We also have a lot of organizational aspects of competitive Esports; how do you determine who’s going to participate and who’s going to compete and at what level?”

Alex Lopez is a first-year criminal justice major. He is currently ranked ninth on the Super Smash Bros Collegiate League online.

“I usually see myself coming more to campus because of this. Because of events, practicing, and meeting other people. So it’s been a pretty enjoyable experience so far,” Lopez said.

The next steps in the study will include comparing research from UT Tyler’s campus and their Italian colleagues from University of Salerno who are doing a similar study with their students.

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