CHICAGO — This year’s Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo — C2E2 — will feature a pair of DePaul University panels that focus on gaming and esports in college. In addition, the university will co-sponsor the Overwatch Gaming Zone during the three-day expo set for March 22-24 at McCormick Place, South Building, 2301 S. Lake Shore Drive.
DePaul will host both panels March 24. The first, “Gaming & College: Incorporating Gaming into Your Academic Career,” will be held from noon-1 p.m. in S403, level four South Building, and feature Samantha Close, an assistant professor in the College of Communication, serving as moderator. Panelists include Chris Jackson, Esteban Perez and Stephen Sotor, all DePaul alumni, and students Katie Pawlicki and Sam Elsbernd. The panel will look at how DePaul is working to incorporate gaming into the curriculum through journalism, business, game design and digital media degree programs.
The second panel, “Being an Esports Athlete in College,” is set for 3:30-4 p.m. and features DePaul esports gamers Abbey McClain, Emilio Pilapil and Linas Savickas, and staff member Nicole Yang, a technology support specialist, who works with DePaul’s esports competitive teams. Panelists will take a deep dive into what it’s like being an esports college athlete, the balance needed between gaming and academics, collegiate competition structures, and opportunities for gamers. This panel will be held on the C2E2 live stage.
“One thing that surprised me about being an esports college athlete is how supportive everyone is,” said Savickas, who captains DePaul’s Rocket League esports squad. “I figured that people who didn’t play esports would look down on us, but I’ve had so many people come up to me in person to ask how it works. That’s cool for me because I think a big part of why some people might be hesitant when it comes to playing collegiate esports is that they're embarrassed of just how much they play or what others will think. I want to let them know that more people think it's cool than just you.”
In collaboration with I Play Games, DePaul will co-sponsor an Overwatch competition on 12 Alienware gaming computers throughout the weekend. Interested competitors, or those who just want to play for fun, need only stop by the gaming zone during expo hours for competitive or casual play. Casual play is set for 10 a.m.-3 p.m. all three days. There will be a competitive tournament featuring four teams on Friday and Saturday.
“The Overwatch Gaming Zone will officially be the first space to truly bring esports to C2E2,” said Kevin Fair, founder and CEO of I Play Games. “Complete with 12 top-of-the-line gaming computers, dual viewing units for spectators, and arranged seating, the space will be perfect for both the competitive teams and for people who are still learning about the world of esports.”
Fair was interested in collaborating with DePaul after seeing the growth of the university’s esports program.
“After officially opening its gaming center, DePaul has taken a number of really positive steps towards officially including esports of all titles as regular activities on campus. Esports makes a great fit for what today's college students are looking for from their university experience,” Fair added.
Started in 2010, C2E2 is the largest pop culture convention in the Midwest, welcoming 82,500 attendees to 2018’s convention. The expo features booths, panels, entertainment and influencers from the world of comic books, cosplay, video games, anime, TV shows, movies, books, wrestling and comedy.
“As DePaul continues to expand and grow our esports program, C2E2 is an exciting opportunity for us to showcase what our students, faculty and staff are doing in the Chicagoland community,” said Courtney James, director of student involvement in DePaul’s Division of Student Affairs.
“Outside of the esports program though, this is a chance to showcase a myriad of DePaul’s pop culture organizations, including the Comic and Manga Club, Cosplay Club, DePaul Doctor Who, Japanese Media Appreciation Group, the Virtual Reality Society, DePaul Role-Playing Groups and more,” she added.