When Luke Scalo was getting ready to choose a college, he had a particular interest not normally seen in viewbooks -- and one that attracted him to Oswego.

The incoming vice president of the college’s eSports Association and avid League of Legends player said the club’s existence was important. “When I was applying to colleges, that was something I was looking for,” the freshman computer science major said.

With an estimated 53.6 million online console gamers in the U.S. in 2017 -- and growing fast -- Scalo is far from alone, as esports interest continues to increase on college campuses. That surge is reflected in Oswego’s organization, which has a listserve of around 120 students and continuously adds more.

The eSports Association creates opportunities for gamers to get together and play, often online, while cultivating an appreciation for this kind of interactive recreation.

The organization started in the 2012-13 school year as the League of Legends Club, which it remained when current president Richard DeMaddis first joined. “But it’s expanded since to a lot of other games,” the senior computer science major explained.

“We’re working to accommodate what games students are interested in and we’ll continue to do so,” said incoming president Brian Richardson.

Games tend to “have their own flow” in terms of popularity, said Richardson, a business administration major who will graduate in December. So the club tries to provide a way for interested gamers to gather, play, try other games and learn about developments in the industry.

League of Legends, a multiplayer online role-playing battle game, remains a popular option, but the club also finds interest in such games as Overwatch, Hearthstone, Super Smash Bros and more.

The organization has held tryouts of their competitive League of Legends and Overwatch teams, held viewing parties for BlizzCon and the Game Awards show, coordinated a number of tournaments and increasingly scheduled events tying into various incarnations of the currently popular Super Smash Bros franchise.

The range of membership also shows how participants get into gaming at various times, including in college. Richardson, who went into the military after high school, got interested in Hearthstone while attending Cayuga Community College. For DeMaddis, discovering Minecraft in high school captured his interest. Scalo, the youngest of three brothers, found League of Legends and a competitive streak with his siblings about eight years ago.

As of 2017, an estimated 43 percent of adults either often or sometimes play video games, according to statistics portal Statistica, with the continuing trend to develop and market online gaming leading to ongoing growth. The Wall Street Journal estimated more than 500 esports clubs and teams exist across colleges.

For Oswego’s eSports Association, their main obstacles are getting the word out on a busy campus -- “when we table, people didn’t know we exist,” Richardson said -- and infrastructure, such as having game consoles and computers that can allow more people to participate. Richardson emphasizes the organization is trying to spread the word and listen to its membership.

Going forward, we plan to host more tournaments, gatherings, viewing parties and gaming lounges throughout the rest of the semester,” DeMaddis said.

Upcoming events include co-hosting with Campus Recreation a Super Smash Bros: Smash Ultimate tournament from 7 p.m. to midnight Friday, April 12, in Marano Campus Center food court, with a Super Mario Party tournament the following day.

Additional activities include the club coordinating a 24-hour gaming lounge and offering other support for the Story Tellers’ Guild’s Arcon annual gaming convention on campus from April 26 to 28, and wrapping up with an end-of-the-year membership social on May 4.

For more information, visit the eSports Association’s LakerLife page.