Words by Claire Ciantar | @claire_ciantar Image sourced from RMIT ESports Facebook RMIT University is one of the first universities in Melbourne to officially recognise their eSports club as part of their traditional sports division. From 2018, eSports at RMIT will operate under RMIT Sports, making the switch from its previous home, RMIT University Student Union (RUSU). Jack Arnold, Sport and Recreation Officer at RMIT Sports, initiated the transition after seeing an opportunity to expand the university’s sporting sector into the eSports realm. “We are really excited to have eSports as part of our cohort. It’s a very different step and one that I didn’t think we’d ever take, but so far it’s going really well,” he told Catalyst News. With goals to increase membership and the number of clubs under the RMIT Sports banner, Mr Arnold saw expansion opportunities in the sector of online gaming. eSports clubs at most other universities in Melbourne form part of their student unions. However, RMIT eSports has been one of the first to transition to the sporting department. According to Mr Arnold, the transition means more recognition for the eSports club at RMIT as well as for the wider community of online gaming. For casual gamers like John Logos, this recognition means that gaming will continue to grow as time and money being invested into the sport increases. “The bigger eSports becomes, the more people who will become more passionate about gaming and through that, there becomes greater excitement for everyone in the community.” Mr Logos said. eSports has increased in popularity over the past decade and is continuing to develop rapidly, becoming more and more mainstream. After prominent AFL Clubs recently showed an interest in the ever-growing eSports community, it didn’t take long for RMIT University to follow suit. Both Adelaide and Essendon Football Clubs have bought into the eSports franchise, with Geelong and Collingwood Football Clubs being the next to explore online gaming opportunities. With eSports gathering such traction, it’s not hard for gamers like Brendan Lu, President of the RMIT eSports Club, to get excited. “eSports is something that the university and RMIT Sports can really get behind … It’s a growing trend for everyone.” The portable nature of the sport is one of the aspects that Mr Arnold suggests has attracted so many people to the online gaming world. “It’s accessible for anyone with computer access … They are not limited by facilities and they can do it wherever they want.” The eSports Club at RMIT currently has 140 members, a figure that is expected to rise with the continuously growing craze.