The future is now: Esports are now something you can study at University!
At least, if you are in the UK or US. For US students, this isn’t completely new. Previously, some universities have started offering esports grants and scholarships to talented players some time ago, and roughly 100 high schools across the country have already launched dedicated esports programs alongside the more traditional soccer or football teams. Esports news, in general, are now often treated with the same priority that football news might be – they’ve come a long way!
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And now things have gone a step further. Several universities are offering their own curriculums for esports players. In fact, the first ‘generation’ of these students have already started their education. The University of Staffordshire – one of the first to offer an esports scholarship in the UK – is once again leading the charge and is now one of several unis that have launched programs specifically to capitalise on the booming industry that is esports.
From America, to UK , all the way to China
The University of Staffordshire went all in and launched both a bachelor’s and master’s program, which lets students learn about the business side of esports – they learn marketing and management skills tailored to the pro-gaming industry.
Britain’s Chichester University, Virginia’s Shenandoah Uni, Massachusetts’ Becker College and the Ohio State uni all offer similar programs. Internationally, two more places offer courses like this – in Singapore and China, select schools also support this sort of curriculum.
Colleges, especially in the US, have been holding varsity-level esports competitions for a long time now – but, without the courses to back them up. Now esports fans get a true shot at doing what they love. Actively pursuing a career in a field that desperately needs professionals to support it.
That said, these courses are still very niche and have limited numbers of spots. If you plan on pursuing one in the future, you should get in touch with your college or university of choice soon and enquire about these programs. You likely won’t be alone in your interest in the highly competitive and very popular esports field.
Naturally, these degrees are not exempt from the tuition fees that the universities charge. Be sure to consider your finances before deciding to pursue one.
Criticism of Esports at the University
There has been some criticism, with some saying that the only reason universities are now offering these courses is that they want to combat falling enrollment and revive interest from potential students.
It’s very important to realise that these courses are NOT teaching people how to play or win games, but rather to work in an esports environment. There is a lot of overlap with business administration, for example, with classes on event planning and so on mixed in as well. Sports management is another close relative of these courses. In other words, you learn how to organise an esports tournament, not how to win it.
The Esports industry is not just a game
Other universities have also vowed to include classes on health and medicine, and the unique issues pro gamers face in that regard – Ohio State is already planning an undergrad major that will include these topics, with a focus on how to stay healthy while gaming and other universities are expected to follow suit soon enough.
Under criticism, especially from parents, these degrees are still incredibly popular and applications and interest wildly exceeded the initial spaces allotted by the universities. As it stands, the esports industry is in desperate need of qualified professionals, and these courses are a great way for them to start filling those gaps. A billion-dollar industry, it’s hard to claim that esports is headed anywhere other than straight up.
It probably won’t be long until other countries and schools follow suit and also start offering these courses to their prospective students.