A student team from New Mexico Highlands University was among 11 high school and college teams to participate in a video gaming competition last week.

Highlands senior Nichalas Fink, graduate student Jason Killian of Las Vegas and freshman Kenny Abeyta of Lordsburg participated in the New Mexico Educational Esports Classic Showcase.  

Esports is a catchall term for competitive video gaming, said Ben Villarreal, assistant professor of English and faculty sponsor for the Highlands esports club.

“In the last several years it’s really blown up,” Villarreal added. “It’s becoming another social space for fostering teamwork among students.”  

The Highlands club is competing in Rocket League, a game that Villarreal described as being like soccer, but with cars instead of people.  

Villarreal said game studies are a part of his scholarly research, which is an interest shared by Brandon Kempner, dean of the college of arts and sciences. Their mutual interest spurred them to create an esports club in 2018, but Villareal said a cyber-attack, followed by the COVID-19 pandemic, slowed their progress. 

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