AUSTIN, Texas - The lights were low and the music intense as enthusiastic Concordia University Texas students poured into the Austin school's brand new "Varsity Esports" arena Tuesday morning to give the state-of-the-art equipment a go.
"It's...ah...it's awesome, you know...I'm still kind of shaken about it, I'm still really excited for it," said student Ryan Doyle from Cedar Park.
Matthew Buschick just graduated from Hyde Park High School and he's joining Concordia's Esports team.
"From the monitors and PC's you have top of the line, 240hz monitors which are the top of the line monitors, Alienware, Logitech, which is great peripherals, keyboards, mouse, headset," Buschick said.
Buschick's game of choice is the online game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, or PUBG.
"It's a 'battle royale game' so there's a hundred players in the lobby and the last one standing is the winner," Buschick said.
Concordia’s Esports program is brand new and the university says it's the first of its kind in Central Texas. Marc Valdoria is the coordinator.
"When Concordia was starting an Esports program they reached out to me because I love video games, I've been video gaming since I was a little kid," Valdoria said.
Valdoria describes the rising world of Esports as "competitive gaming." The team will be playing against other schools.
"We want to treat this like a real sport. We know Esports has a stigma attached to it but we want to kind of defy the odds and show that Esports is not just gamers playing games in the basement," Valdoria said.
Instead of the NCAA, Concordia's team will be governed by the National Association of Collegiate Esports or NACE. There are also scholarships.
"We have a merit-based scholarship but also an Esports scholarship and that could amount up to $21,000 for incoming freshman students," Valdoria said.
Doyle says he'll be a "player coach" with the team. He points out a career in competitive gaming is proving to be profitable.
"There was a Fortnite tournament just this weekend. Some 16-year-old made $3 million just from playing a video game,” Doyle said. “I think parents are starting to realize, my kid plays video games all day, he could potentially be doing that as well.”
That 16-year-old's name is Kyle, screen name "Bugha." He beat out competitors from all over the globe at a Fortnite World Championship in New York.
"To think about video games actually paying off, it's amazing because back then you were like 'stop playing your games, do the dishes, do something else.' Now it's like 'no, no you just keep playing, keep getting better,'" Valdoria said.