Whitaker Center
Central PA’s Nonprofit Center for the Arts

esports

At Whitaker Center, we host multiple esports events for Harrisburg University's Varsity esports Team, The HU Storm. From matches and tournaments, to watch parties and livestream viewing events our Select Medical Digital Cinema is an impressive venue for live gaming and an excellent option for events. We are also the home of The HU Storm's training facilty: a 2,300 sqare foot state-of-the-art space where team members and faculty can practice and collaborate.

Esports is essentially competitive video gaming, where people play against each other online and in-person. Esports can be comprised of tournaments or season-long league play. It exists in the professional landscape, on college campuses across the country, at the high school level, and even as amateur events in communities through the United States. More recently, live esports events have drawn national and international attention for drawing massive crowds and offering huge prize purses. Major networks like ESPN and Turner now regularly air tournaments with prize pools rivaling some of the biggest events in traditional sports.

Whitaker Center is a natural home for esports as a center built to provide STEM learning in an entertaining atmosphere. Our collaborative relationship with HU will foster new programs aimed to teach coding and design as well as encourage technical fluency.

"Whitaker Center has years of experience bringing high-grade digital media entertainment as well as stage performances to the Harrisburg area. Their expertise will no doubt bring an air of professionalism not yet seen in collegiate esports, especially at the campus level." - Theresa Gaffney, Reporter, Collegiate Starleague

"As the (esports) industry continued to grow across the country, and throughout North America, Pennsylvania has solidified itself as a leader. Part of that success has been our commitment to and partnership with organizations like the Whitaker Center who focuses on innovative ways to teach people about science and technology. Esports has played, and will continue to play, a critical role in promoting and advancing STEM education and curriculum. Whitaker Center has found a way to combine these elements together, and we are excited to continue to work with them to advance esports here in Pennsylvania." -- Bill Thomas, Chairman of the PA Esports Coalition

Harrisburg is being nationally recognized in the esports world for the bold steps HU and Whitaker Center have taken to build an esports ecosystem in the mid-state (and beyond). Both nonprofits (and neighbors on Market Street), Whitaker Center and HU have aligned their campuses to offer complementing facilities to HU students and enhanced educational assets to Whitaker Center's Education Team and guests.

"...Harrisburg (University) is taking esports quite seriously. It's planning to offer full-ride esports scholarships, and has also announced a partnership with a local area, Whitaker Center, that will include esports matches being broadcast to live audiences on a giant 4 story screen." - Kieran Darcy, ESPN Staff Writer

Multiple studies show that participating in esports, or competitive video gaming, has significant benefits to a students cognitive abilities, including increased memory, problem solving and critical thinking. Also, being part of an esports club or team builds leadership, communication skills and confidence. And those students who play video games are more likely to pursue jobs in STEM fields, improving our workforce in critical areas of need.

Positive STEM outcomes from esports:

  • Improves visual acuity & attention
  • Increase problem solving skills
  • Foster scientific reasoning
  • Associated with higher math achievement
  • Strongly associated with technology fluency
  • Increased STEM subject area activities (website creation; streaming; analytics)

Women in esports are a force to be reckoned with, growing in numbers as professional players but also taking positions in the business-side of esports as event planners, women's division heads and PR managers. All-women teams are also emerging as industry leaders like Team Dignitas signed an all-women’s “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” team and global esports organization Gen. G recently created an all-female U.S. “Fortnite” team. Strong female gamers will help to attract more females to the sport, ensuring the growth of the industry on both the business and fan side.

"While its audience is typically male and millennial, there are signs esports is becoming more diverse. About 29% of U.S. fans between the ages of 13 and 40 began watching in the past year and they “skew less male and are less likely to be millennials than fans who have followed esports longer,” according to a report from Nielsen Games. That same report said women now make up approximately 25% of the U.S. fan base." - Variety

 Female gamers:

  • Are three times as likely to seek STEM degree programs in secondary education than females who do not play video games
  • Collectively, represent 31% of the gaming population. That's significant compared to the amount of male gamers under the age of 18 (18%)
  • Have the support of their parents. 71% of American parents feel video games positively impact their child's life

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