BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) –  According to Southern University, 92% of Black people are gamers however, they only make up 2% of the e-sports industry.

But now, the University is helping close that gap with its new E-sports Innovation Lab.

“It’s more than just gaming,” said Noland Johnson. “This is about career opportunities.”

Johnson is a senior at Southern University who considers himself an avid gamer.

“I love gaming, so it definitely depends on the time of the year,” he said. “During the summer I game way more than in the school year.”

He says before the new E-sports Innovation Lab, he would play just for fun, but now this center could help him turn his hobby into a career.

“I have gotten internship opportunities. I’ve spoken at conferences. And then when you think of gaming, we get paid for our tournaments,” he said.

And that’s exactly what Chancellor John Pierre wants. Not just Southern students but people in the community will be able to learn all things e-sports.

“We’re trying to get students involved in entrepreneurship, STEM, what I would call innovation, and be part of a $5 billion industry, not from the standpoint of just playing the games, but from the standpoint of creating the games,” Pierre said.

The new center has more than 9 TVs and 34 computers all donated by Best Buy and the mayor. The goal is to make sure more minorities are sitting at the e-sports table.

“We want to support HBCU students by helping to close digital literacy and tech access gaps on HBCU campuses, as well as supporting their career development,” said Kia Johnson, the director of Inclusion Diversity at Best Buy.

Noland agreed. “Being able to see a kid who is in the same position as me have way more opportunities because of the work we’ve done. It’s fulfilling. It’s very fulfilling,” he said.

The new center will host the 2023 Esports Summit on March 16. For more information click here.