A university degree in esports? Yes!
The University of Arizona, which converted its Student Union Memorial Center into an esports arena, launched Arizona Esports in 2021 to build on its thriving community of gaming enthusiasts. The university has also created varsity teams to compete in several popular games, including Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and students can now get a minor in esports.
At the University of North Carolina – Wilmington, Professor Ray Pastore, himself a longtime gamer, wanted to gauge the value of starting an esports club on campus. Pastore expected about five students to attend the club’s inaugural meeting. “More than 120 students showed up that day,” he says.
In 2019, UNC-W launched its first esports team, and in 2020 introduced undergraduate and graduate certificate programs in esports performance and management through its Watson College of Education. Undergraduate courses include esports leadership, development, and coordination; Audio and video streaming for esports and games; and sports coaching and team development.
“Our esports program does several things,” says Pastore. “It educates students about the industry, allows them to create projects they can use as part of a work portfolio, and opens up internship opportunities for those who want to enter the gaming and gaming space. ‘esports.’ The skill set also creates a broader technology culture, he says. “For example, the ability to stream and create content is a skill that will benefit all industries in the future. Gamers happen to be early adopters.”