25 September 2019

Sowing the Seeds of the Future- Esports in Academia

 

In the past decade, esports has started to grow into a robust and versatile industry from being a niche form of entertainment. New franchises to compete in have cropped up, with MOBAs and new shooters mushrooming into their own brands and forming their own communities.

 

As always, when a new culture, idea or philosophy emerges, society will slowly evolve to accommodate such changes (provided that it garners enough support) and esports isn’t exempt from that phenomenon. In our recent years, the esports industry and community has grown so much and (excitingly) doesn’t seem content to stop.

 

Early this year, universities across the Pacific Rim set up the University eSports International Initiative (UeII). The 11 founding members are: Far Eastern Federal University, Vladivostok, Russia; Keio University in Japan; Nanyang Technological University, Singapore; National University of Singapore; Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico; Hong Kong University of Science and Technology; University of British Columbia, Canada; Yonsei University, South Korea; and UCLA, University of Southern California and University of Washington in the United States.

 

On top of that, universities are offering esports scholarships and esports clubs have started to become a staple in universities. Over 150 schools will be offering esports college scholarship in the 2019 academic school year, and over 900 schools beyond that will have some formal school-affiliated esports social club and/or varsity team.

 

Not only are the numbers growing, but it seems that introducing competitive esports to the curriculum of a school is beneficial to the study environments of the school. It helps with the image of the school, showing that they are progressive and welcoming of the future. On top of that, universities have reported an uptick in engagement and student intake upon announcing an involvement in esports, whether it is a scholarship or an esports club.

 

Besides providing support for people who have an interest, there are universities that offer degrees in Esports. The future is now! You can actually be a Bachelor of Esports. The degree teaches skills necessary to host events, host streams, create content and a whole plethora of tools needed to thrive in an esports centric environment.

 

Trilz’s Thoughts on the Matter

Here’s what I think: in order to properly develop the future of esports, we need to invest in it. We need to ensure that we can guarantee a future in esports. This means a clear path towards the industry has to forged for our inheritors to walk upon. It also requires the support of the community, for people to stop being naysayers to young emergent players.

 

While I think we’re on the right track, I think we’re lacking another important component: image and branding. In my opinion, esports is currently in a similar stage as basketball around the early 2000’s where there wasn’t an official dress code. Players on the bench or by the side of the court would be decked out in bling with baggy clothes, a clear influence from hip hop. Such attire was banned and players had to be dressed in business casual or attire fitting of a coach.

While there were some growing pains and some lashback regarding the new dress code (and some claims about the new dress code being racist and targeting black culture), basketball blew up. Now it’s seen as classy, basketball players now have a close relationship with suits, and all the top brands are clamoring to dress them. But more importantly, basketball is now big business.

 

We can all clamour for noble paths towards the future, but the best path towards success is probably following the money. Esports will get it’s own version of dress codes and suits, and when it does, business will boom. Could it be PC peripherals? Their own brand of fashion? Whatever it is, I’m convinced that the future of esports, the evolution of esports…is just around the corner.

 

Sources:
1. Esports Colleges and Gaming Scholarships | GYO
2. Universities ride eSports wave for a stake in its future
3. Universities Use New Esports Programs to Entice Students
4. Staffordshire University: Bachelor of Esports
5. NBA Dress Code of 2005

Written by: Dexter Lim aka Trilz
The views expressed are those of the author and do not in any way, represent nor reflect those of HP OMEN and its affiliations.