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      More Hertz, More Pain

      More Hertz, More Pain

      Since the release of operating systems, rivalries have emerged between fanbases as to which products are the best for personal computers—Whether via the long-time competition between Apple & Microsoft; the CPU race featuring AMD Ryzen vs Intel’s I-Series processors; the GPU race between AMD’s RX/RTX & Nvidia’s 30 Series; or the best accessories company such as Razer, Corsair, Logitech, etc. Many diehard fans will go down defending their chosen company, however there is one thing all enthusiasts can ultimately agree on in the end— the more Hertz offered, the better gaming experience you will have.

       

      What Are Hertz?

      Hertz is the system’s refresh rate available on a monitor, which in shorter terms, means the availability of frames per second to the user. Why does this matter to the user? Well, this means the user’s experience will be improved by a higher refresh rate as it offers less motion blur, smoother video performance, and in turn, less strain on the user’s eyes! Currently, variations are offered on monitors between 60Hz-240Hz but are commonly purchased as 60Hz, 144Hz, or 240Hz.

       

      What is Required? 

      Requirements for different processes, programs, or games will vary depending on the load it places on the user’s hardware, however it (usually) be assumed that most large, newer games will require more power to run on a higher quality setting [High, Ultra]—Call of Duty: Warzone, for instance, is a MASSIVE battle royal map with a highly interactive environment that can easily push some basic rigs to their limit, whereas Valorant may be substantially easier to run due to simplified maps and exponentially less animations, cinematics, effects and the like.

      It should be recognized that the Hertz refresh rate is limited both by the monitor being used and the hardware being utilized at the time. The most basic monitor, 60Hz (Hertz) is only capable of 60 frames per second, which understandably means a 144Hz would be capable of 144 frames per second, and so on to their respective max refresh rates. To achieve these rates, the hardware in the computer must be capable of delivering a consistent stream of data to the monitor, which if bottle-necked, would see a reduction in quality and performance—For instance, using a 144Hz monitor with outdated graphics hardware (low RAM, old GPU/CPU) may yield low frames to the user, and not reach the monitor’s full potential; on the other hand, a 60Hz monitor may not be the best decision for a computer utilizing powerful components such as an I-Series with Nvidia 3090 GPU, as you will only experience a fraction of the frames available. Simply put, you’d get to see and experience a lot more in a Ferrari as opposed to a leisurely drive in a Camry!

       

      Male gamer facing large computer monitor with headphones on

      Importance of the Hertz

      If someone told you there was something out there that could significantly improve your performance, whether in gaming, processing power, or even the general experience (without cheating), wouldn’t you be even slightly interested? Well, let’s use a few professional players as our test subjects, as Linus Tech Tips did a video featuring Shroud, Grimmmz, and some other impressive first-person gamers to test whether there was any difference at all between performance/experience to them. The verdict to what is one of my favorite tests, the Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Dust II Double Doors test, yielded some fantastic results: An exponential improvement can be seen across the board after making the jump from 60Hz to 144Hz, with the casual users roughly doubling their connected shots, and 7-9x fold increase in the pros/semi-pros!

      Why the massive increase in connected shots if it’s just a refresh rate difference? Well, Grimmmz had suggested the difference was due to having to it “Being a slight pattern,” with lower refresh rates as you had less frame inputs, as opposed to having the ability to play reactively with higher refresh rates. “High refresh rate doesn’t make you a better gamer, it makes it easier to be a better gamer.”  So if you’d like to play like the pros, give yourself the best competitive edge, make the upgrade today if you haven’t already!

      Ranking Up Online & in Education: E-Sports Gaming Scholarships

      Young man playing video game looking down at laptop

      Valorant, Call of Duty: Warzone, CS:GO, DOTA 2, League of Legends and more have been recognized as team-based games with potential to create strong communities and group cohesion via teamwork and communication . In addition to their ability to draw like-minded individuals together, about 175 Universities are enrolled in the National Association of College E-Sports [NACE] and offer scholarships to skilled gaming enthusiasts whom seek to further their education, with many Universities also participating in Collegiate Chapters through Tespa.

      Of the 175 Universities with Scholarships offered, here are some of the more closely located schools in the Southeast region of the United States (relative to the Esports Club), with their respective locations & division received (if applicable):

       

      University

      Location

      Division

      Barry University

      Miami, FL

      Sunshine State Conference, D2

      Coker University

      Hartsville, SC

      South Atlantic Conference, D2 NCAA

      Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

      Daytona Beach, FL

      Sunshine State Conference, D2 NCAA

      Florida Southern College

      Lakeland, FL

      Sunshine State Conference, D2

       

      Full Sail University

      Winter Park, FL

      N/A

      Georgia State University

      Atlanta, GA

      Sun Belt Conference, D1

      Keiser University

      West Palm Beach, FL

      Sun Conference, NAIA

      Limestone College

      Gaffney, SC

      Conference Carolinas, D2; Blue Grass Mountain Conference

      NCWA- Georgia Southern University

      Statesboro, GA

      NCWA

      Newberry College

      Newberry, SC

      South Atlantic Conference, D2

      Savannah College of Art & Design

      Savannah, GA

      Florida Sun Conference, D3

      Southeastern University

      Lakeland, FL

      The Sun Conference, D1 NAIA, D1 NCCAA

      St. Thomas University (FL)

      Miami, FL

      Florida Sun Conference, NAIA

      University of Montevallo

      Montevallo, AL

      Peach Belt Conference, D2

      University of South Carolina- Sumter

      Sumter, SC

       

      University of South Carolina- Union

      Union, SC

       

      [Complete list found here].

       

      Scholarship values tend to range based on the University, the E-Sports team offered, and their respective divisions. Many of these scholarships are currently partial scholarships ranging anywhere from $500-$8,000, although a handful beginning to offer full-tuition scholarships as the E-Sports scene grows! Harrisburg University in Pennsylvania hosted a tournament in which 35 players from 20 different states (and 3 countries) competed, featuring a combination tournament of Overwatch, League of Legends, and Hearthstone—16 of which received a full-academic scholarship!

       

      What Does It Take to Be Discovered for an E-Sports Gaming Scholarship?

      The criteria for being discovered varies, as factors such as skill level, networking, and overall availability of scholarships can determine eligibility for universities. A few of the factors considered are Gamertags/Discord tags (is it game-based, personality based, or possibly even toxic); hours played per week in the respective game of interest; rank in respective game; role in the game/on the team; and any highlights that may be featured on one’s social media to determine how one acts when in the action—Are they cool-headed? Do they play as a team? The National Association of College E-Sports has a list of recommended ranking levels for Undergraduates and Upperclassmen to their respective games in order to bring candidates of a base skill level in, as well as encouraging students to maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA in order to remain eligible.

       

      E-Sports Opportunities

      The list of opportunities in the E-Sport world are extensive, as it includes far more than simply “E-Sport Player.” Opportunities can be found in the gaming industry anywhere from Commentators, Coaches, Marketing Specialists (Advertising), Event Managers, Gaming Developers, Agents, Journalists, Production Specialists, etc.! Not to mention, all of these require the professional services of Lawyers, Finance Specialists, IT/Support Teams, and Medical Professionals for said businesses and events which, as it’s constantly growing adds new cyber laws, products, and services to its ensemble requiring new employees for positions that have yet to even be created! Whether you would like to be in the limelight as a professional player, or behind the scenes, the E-Sports industry has an opportunity for you!

      Lan Gameplay VS. Online Gameplay

      Lan Gameplay VS. Online Gameplay

      The long-time debate of LAN vs Online gameplay has been argued by gaming enthusiasts since even before the invention of the internet (January 1, 1983), with the first ‘online games’ taking place as early as the 1970’s. What does each category offer that the other doesn’t? Ultimately most games can be played in either scenario nowadays, so why does this remain a controversial topic when the differences seem minor at first glance? Well, let’s dig a deeper into some aspects of both types of gaming with a bit of a pros & cons to see which may be a more enjoyable gaming experience for you!

       

      LAN Gameplay

      LAN gameplay, also known as Local Area Network gameplay, is a game hosted on a local server that allows low latency (low ping) to players that are normally connected via close-range to the same network-- This is a capability not available for online gaming and offers the most balanced experience to players in the hosted game as packet loss is minimal (if any), in addition to offering the faster reaction/response times between the client & host due to reduced delays.

      The immediate benefit of LAN, aside from the low latency, is the fact that it offers in-person interaction & means of communication that may be more difficult online, as online communication is limited to video and audio equipment available. Have you ever thought to yourself, it would be way easier if I was just there to do it/show them myself? This would be one of those applicable scenarios. An added benefit would be the availability of socializing with a community of individuals that have similar interests and skills! [A full list of LAN benefits & opportunities will be compiled in a later article].

      Although LAN has its pro’s, it should be recognized that this can be the E-Sports version of essentially playing a Home vs Away game if one normally competes online, as the differences can be significant. Factors that must be considered when one is playing in-person vary greatly, as one may be less comfortable/less familiar with some of the hardware & accessories being utilized; the environment presented (is it calm, loud?); or even the stimuli associated with larger venues due to audience sizes. On the other hand, some of these factors may also cause some individuals to excel as the equipment offered may be superior to what they’ve experienced (top of the line PC’s), and the energy of the team/crowd may be beneficial as many players thrive under pressure!

       

      Online Gameplay

      Online gameplay is based off the Internet Service Provider’s (ISP) connection speed to the hosting network/server, whether it may be to Steam/Valve, Blizzard, Epic Games, etc. In many online games today, the option is offered to set the preferred server (usually closest to your location) to allow the individual to achieve the best possible (lowest) latency/ping available for gameplay.

      The benefits to online gameplay can be extensive, however the immediate difference offered that LAN falls short on is the ability to host massive games—Thousands of individuals at once on Massive Multiplayer Online servers (MMO’s), or hundreds in a Battle Royale arena! As LAN scenarios are often limited to venue size and equipment offered, online gameplay is currently superior for games that require large amounts of players at once.

      It should be recognized that due to the online factor, the cons can stack up just as quickly for a player due to its anonymity & distance. ‘Hackers’ (technically scripters) may abuse third party programs to exploit/cheat in games, toxicity may be off the charts, and it’s not terribly uncommon for players to leave which makes competitive gaming difficult! These are factors that usually can be handled or avoided in an in-person situation, so understand online experience can absolutely vary between individuals!

       

       

      LAN

      Online

      Latency

      Low-Latency/Low Ping, Local Games connected to same network (<10ms)

      Server/internet dependent latency (Most commonly <150ms)

      Game Sizes

      Limited to equipment available in venue

      Massive online games, limited only by server capabilities

      Communication

      Offers in-person interaction for social & gaming scenarios

      Interaction limited to communication equipment available (mic, camera, etc.)

      Community Development

      Physical location for communities to meet

      Communities develop through Discord, web forums, etc.

      Active Hours

      Limited to businesses Hours of Operation

      Online usually allows a 24/7 matchmaking/user experience

      Player Accountability

      High Accountability (In-Person events)

      Low Accountability (Online Anonymity/Username or Profiles)

      Player Base

      Club/Team (Local Users) Exclusive

      Worldwide/Region Based Users

       

      Conclusion 

      To avoid any confusion, we would like to clarify that we believe both Online & LAN have positive and negative aspects, that respectfully, makes both worth experiencing and is not necessarily advocating for one over the other. In a casual/leisurely gaming scenario, online is the most accessible game type as it allows a constant stream of content to the player; however, for die-hard competitive gaming and developing local teams/clubs, LAN will be superior due to the reduced latency & ability to meet individuals in-person. On a personal note, playing the original Halo on (4) Xbox’s with friends in a LAN party was one of the more enjoyable gaming memories the author has, and would highly recommend the reader experiences both types of gameplays to determine which is preferable to them. Due to current events, its understandable many professional/semi-professional players are competing in tournaments online, some of which were historically LAN (such as CS:GO’s ESL Pro League), which has been beneficial for player/public safety, but problematic for the normal operation of tournaments due to changes in gameplay, delays and postponements. Truthfully, it seems it would be in the players best interest to become somewhat familiar with both local and online games, as competition/tournaments will be offered in both variations, requiring a well-rounded player to understand the seemingly minor, but vital differences that turns a decent player-- into a Champion.

      Amazon's Influence on E-Sports

      Amazon has announced its very own cloud gaming platform to rival Google Stadia, called Luna.

      The Boys are coming to gaming. No, I don’t mean the series itself, although that may very well be on the table in the not-too-distant future. The big dog, Amazon is entering the buzzing world of E-Sports and gaming. It’s no secret Amazon has owned and operated one of the most widely viewed gaming & streaming websites, Twitch, in addition to its companion, Prime Gaming which (by monthly Amazon subscription) gives subscribers additional skins, cosmetics, and bundles offered for a variety of games drawing a significant amount of attention from gamers. However, it was recently announced that Amazon was pairing up with many of the large gaming developers to create their own platform, Luna.

       

      Amazon Luna's Gaming Controller

      Amazon's First Attempts in the E-Sports Realm 

      Amazon had initially struggled with the release of their original titles; i.e., Breakaway (March, 2018) , a brawler-objective based game that was cancelled in development, and their attempt at a battle royale, Crucible (March, 2020), which was returned to Closed Beta shortly after its release and eventually shutdown completely. With the addition of their MMORPG, New World (August, 2021), it seems Amazon began catching some attention as an estimated 200,000 players took part in its Beta, which although was considered a success, was ultimately pushed back (it’s fourth time) for its official release date on August 31st to September 28th.

       

      Cover of Amazon's New Game, New World

       

      Amazon's Cloud Gaming Platform, Luna 

      Amazon’s Luna is designed to be a fully functional gaming platform, utilizing a controller with user details (& monthly subscription) to access a library of games from software developers such as Ubisoft [E.g., Assassin’s Creed Franchise], 505 Games [E.g., Dead by Daylight, Assetto Corsa], and Capcom [E.g., Sonic Franchise, Metroid, etc.]. Luna’s capabilities are vast, offering an extensive library of games to users, requiring access to only a screen, a controller, and internet access - no PC or console required! With Luna, one can play on demand without the normal hardware one would associate with gaming. Consoles and PC towers are no longer needed as games are streamed to their players via the Cloud system.

      Although this system is like Google’s Stadia regarding its Cloud streaming capabilities, these similarities dissipate quickly due to platforms they are compatible with; Stadia with Google/YouTube, and Luna with Amazon/Twitch, respectfully. Pricing varies with their monthly subscriptions, however the advantage Luna has over Stadia is the ability to have full access to the entire library available, whereas Google’s Stadia offers a portion of all games to users, in addition to some cases requiring full-game purchases.

       

      Amazon's New Game Streaming Service, Luna

       

      The Future of Gaming 

      As Amazon begins to establish a larger position in the gaming industry, they seemingly develop a better understanding of what the consumers are seeking. Whether it’s creating something from scratch and returning to the drawing board for new ideas or giving a platform to reboot classic titles many were unable to enjoy, until now. With a semiconductor chip shortage that may last until 2023, gaming systems may soon be a rarity as they are few and far to assemble and distribute to consumers. The future oddly enough may repeat itself from the past, as humanity may once more find themselves looking towards the moon - Luna.

      Today A Gamer, Tomorrow an Athlete

      Rainbow lit computer keyboard

      Whether you’re an investor searching for your next venture, or an individual looking for a new hobby featuring active communities with similar interests, the world of E-Sports has something to offer everyone! Seeing massive growth in recent years, catalyzed by current events, the E-Sports/gaming industry has spiked in popularity, attracting global interest from viewers all kinds; gaming fans, corporate interests, or even sports enthusiasts looking to branch out to experience new types of competition!

       

       With roughly 4.6 billion unique individuals with internet access, this means roughly 1 in 9 are regular viewers of Esports (and growing)!

      The Growth of E-Sports 

      E-Sports viewership currently surpasses that of the NHL, NBA, and MLB in America, second only to the NFL, and has seen an upward growth of roughly 10-12% annually reaching over 500 million unique viewers which may very well put it at the top of the list in the not-too-distant future!

      The rise of Corporate Sponsorships for E-Sport leagues and teams is quickly gaining traction as many companies jump in on the action; with many backings such BMW with (Team) Fnatic, Honda being featured at LCS (League Championship Series) with over half a million viewers on Twitch alone, or Marvel Entertainment’s endorsement of Team Liquid to name a few- (Imagine being sponsored by superheroes!). It’s estimated in 2020 alone, the E-Sports industry brought in just under $1.1 billion in revenue, with many of these titles/tournaments only being out a few years!

      With growing communities, one could assume the future will hold larger prize pools, (DOTA 2: International is the current largest at $34 million), greater diversity of competition, and as team rosters and game content changes, new experiences! Netflix too, has an upcoming gaming platform, taking an introductory step into the world of gaming by offering ad-free mobile games that may feature some of their more popular franchises (e.g., Stranger Things). Nothing has seemingly been confirmed yet, however possibilities are quite vast as Netflix is already offered on Xbox/PlayStation consoles, PC’s and Smartphones - It may very well be possible the next step would be streaming games direct to these devices!

       

      League Championship Series (LCS), 2019; With this much direct advertising you could sell a submarine fleet!

       

      The Future of Mixed-Gender Teams in E-Sports

      On the note of mobile gaming, this platform has grown quickly in recent years due to advancement of handhelds such as Smartphones (battery life/processing power), the Nintendo Switch, and the widely anticipated Steam Deck. It would be a misconception to believe men still hold the majority of the gaming audience, as women make up over half of active mobile gamers!   Esports and the gaming industry has had a gradual shift in player database diversity and demographics, with recent statistics showing women make up roughly 41% of gamers all around, and account for 1/3 of gaming viewership audiences. Inclusive leagues, tournaments, and organizations such as For the Women (FTW) and Women in Games continue to strive for equality and opportunities for women in the workplace and online, in addition to stomping out discrimination/discriminatory practices. E-Sports is one of the few sporting branches that allows competition with mixed-gender teams, which may be WHY it is the future of competitive sports!

       

      Evil Geniuses original mixed gender Valorant roster; [left to right]- Ronan “Osias” Javelona, Nolan “Temperature” Pepper, team captain Christine “potter” Chi, Claudia “clawdia” Che, and Aleksander “aleksander” Hinojosa. *Recent roster changes were made June 28th this year, substituting Osias, and Aleksander, in addition to the transfer of Clawdia to Counter Logic Gaming Red.

       

      Recap

      With popularity drawing in gaming enthusiasts of all demographics, combined with viewers/sports spectators, corporations (and admittedly gamblers) to the scene, the future of E-Sports is for lack of better phrasing, limitless with potential. In 2013, the United States officially recognized E-Sports players as Athletes, and recently Romania has taken the same stance, changing our perspective on what it means to participate in a professional, competitive team sport. Currently, 175 Universities have adopted gaming scholarships, bridging the gap to a higher education for individuals who may have struggled with extracurriculars in the past. What was once seen as a hobby to many has become a gateway to endless possibilities whether you’re a beginner or a professional in a variety of aspects; As Esports/the gaming industry continues to expand, the demand for artists, developers, producers and fresh ideas will undoubtedly follow along, resulting in constant opportunities for all. Perhaps, with patience, dedication, and feedback, all of which the E-Sports Player’s Club strives to enhance in individuals, you could join the ranks of the elite as well!