A new kind of gamer
We’ve come a long way since the days of the stereotype of the video game enthusiast in the dimly lit basement struggling to lift his weight as he heads to the kitchen for another slice of pizza. Gaming is bigger than ever and is taken more seriously than it has ever been in the past, and no aspect of the industry benefits more from this than the competitive scene, esports.
With a rapidly growing audience, now there’s real potential in treating esports like any other sport in terms of sponsorships, team management and tournament organizers, with a further spike in interest caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on traditional sporting events.
Beyond the eye-popping prize pools, top players can easily earn five or six figures in salary, not to mention the ever-growing potential of establishing a streaming brand and generating big bucks from sponsorships.
All this increase in market metrics unlocked alternative career paths in the gaming scene as well, turning previously volunteer-based positions like tournament organizing, casting or event hosting into real business opportunities – not to mention positions related to marketing, tech and finance – with academic opportunities to follow.
Esports Education: a new learning horizon
That’s right, gaming is now such a phenomenon that esports studies are a valid academic pathway. Even publications like MIT Press got into the action with titles like Raising the Stakes: E-Sports and the Professionalization of Computer Gaming. It turns out there’s also a fairly strong correlation between interest in STEM careers and esports, with Riot Games releasing a data point in 2018 stating how over 60% of their collegiate competitors were majoring in such fields.
Esports also serve as a great way to foster growth in soft skills and to create a sense of community. Extra-curricular programmes like Level Academy’s esports education and training academy serve as a great pathway to high-level competition.
On the collegial level, esports has already begun to crop up in the curriculum, like Syracuse University’s Newhouse School who partnered with Twitch to enhance their offering. Sporting scholarships, long a traditional element in American higher education, have also taken a decidedly digital flavor with now over $15 million’s worth of esports scholarships on offer across various colleges.
Gaming has gone from an exciting pastime to a real career opportunity and staring at the screen for days on end is no longer the sort of time-sink parents used to see it as. Cultivating a child’s existing interest in the field can enable real academic opportunities, ensuring that they can pursue a career in a field they love, with a strong educational support network to ensure a good position in the marketplace.