Recent alum Benjamin Farley ’21 joins PCA&D as Esports Team coach

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Wednesday, November 17th, 2021

Benjamin Farley was 10 when he was introduced to the classic Xbox game Halo 2.

He started with the game’s single-player campaign. Then he quickly switched to multiplayer. Once he went into battle head-to-head against other players, he says he was “stunned by how much fun it was.” There was a strong player community, he says, and “custom lobbies where players were able to create their own minigames.”

He was hooked.

Those experiences were some of the seeds that led Farley to major in Animation & Game Art at PCA&D, where he graduated just last spring.

They’re some of the seeds he helped nurture in young players when serving as a facilitator for PCA&D’s summertime Esports Camp.

And they’re some of the seeds that led him to his current position as coach of the Peacocks, Pennsylvania College of Art & Design’s competitive Esports Team. According to globalsportmatters.com, PCA&D now is one of the hundreds of colleges and universities to officially compete in esports leagues. That number continues to quickly rise.

“I heard about the coaching position while I was working as a facilitator for PCA&D’s Esports Camp over the summer,” Farley says. “I heard the school was expanding the program and (reached out to esports consultant) Monica Miller … We both decided (the job) was a good fit for me and the school so we moved ahead, and the rest is history.”

Underway this spring

The College’s Esports Team will officially start competing this spring semester through the Eastern College Athletic Conference in two games: League of Legends and Overwatch.

PCA&Ds five-member League of Legends team enters the arena tasked with destroying the Nexus, the final building in the other team’s base.  Each player has a specific role and duties, and the game is won by the team with the best overall strategy and team-fight tactics.

The College’s six-member Overwatch team is pided into support, tanks, and damage. Teams win based on both inpidual hero skills and team tactics that win them objective points on a map.

And, though Farley doesn’t go “into battle” with his teams, as their coach his responsibilities “have many layers. I have the duties of an organizer, educator, and leader,” he says. “It’s my job to set the team up for tournaments and scrimmages, to teach tactics and strategy, and to lead the team in practice.” During their mix of online and in-person practice, both teams get into voice chat with each other, Farley says, “and queue into matches against other human opponents. After their matches, I take some time to review the games and offer feedback.” Now, he says, “our goals are to improve at the game through better tactics, strategy, and communication.”

‘Strategy, patience, and being a team player’

Farley admits he’s heard it all: that people spend too much time gaming. That it’s bad for kids. That it doesn’t teach anything useful.

Learn more about PCA&D’s Esports team here

Not surprisingly, the esports coach sees the sport a little differently.

“Gaming offers many benefits and comes in a huge variety of games,” he argues. “Some … can help with reaction times and mental dexterity. Other games can teach problem-solving skills, history, or even simulate how to be a mechanic.

“Gaming can enhance social and emotional learning … and also offers community building in-game and out of the game.”

The pursuit, he says, “has taught me strategy, patience, and how to be a team player.”

Outside of serving as coach of the PCA&D Peacocks, Farley is employed as a game designer/moderator at Escape Room Lancaster. He’s also bit of a foodie, trying new restaurants in and around Lancaster. And, of course, he plays other videos besides Overwatch and League of Legends. But, besides all of those interests, serving as PCA&D’s coach is a top priority. “I hope,” he says, “that I can make the team and the faculty proud!”