As the popularity of esports continues to grow, more and more Universities and Colleges are beginning to recognize the benefits of bringing esports on campus, both in and out of the classroom. Esports, or competitive gaming, has become a multi-billion dollar industry and offers a unique opportunity for educational institutions to engage with students, build community, and even generate revenue.
Increased Student Engagement
Esports offers an alternative way for students to engage with their universities. For many students, traditional extracurricular activities, such as sports teams, may not be appealing or accessible. Esports provides an opportunity for students with a passion for gaming to come together as a team, represent their school, and compete against other institutes. This isn’t just limited to those competing as well! Often it’s forgotten about that, like the sports industry, spectating gaming competitions is an entertainment product. And behind every good entertainment product is a team of passionate people sewing the narratives seeds and making it visually amazing.
In addition, esports can attract students who may not have considered the university before, as they may be drawn in by the opportunity to participate on or off the virtual pitch.
In the same way many colleges have gained reputation for having acclaimed sports programs, there’s opportunity for the same thing with esports. And to be honest it’s already the case! Colleges like Maryland have already cemented their brand as a top contender in esports.
Just how we have young football players aspiring to go to Notre Dame, buying a cap and dreaming of the day they could be given a jersey, so to is this happening in esports. Even outside the world of diehard college football fans, average joes know the name, and if that’s not provided immense value to the college over the years I don’t know what has.
Esports in the classroom
The diagram below speaks for itself when you zoom in and really look at the details, but the wealth of opportunity to tap into skills and roles needed within the esports industry is basically limitless.
Just like how there’s a whole industry outside of the game itself, making it matches into spectacles requires a wealth of skills and in tern has a wealth of learning opportunities.
Throw in the argument I like to make, just like how a student at any age doesn't have to become a professional footballer or even work in the sports industry for time on a sports team to be valuable to them, it's the exact same with esports. The skill needed for both competing and working in the space are universal like communication, team work, strategy and so on.
The final point and often most important is using esports to engage kids that don't really care. Ok it's more of an issue at a primary and high school level. But if a student is disengaged in the cirriculum, and all they care and talk about is going home and playing fifa with their mates, then why not tap into that passion and bring it into the classroom and build learning opportunities around something that's on their level and they already care about.
As mentioned, Esports can also provide students with valuable career opportunities. As the industry continues to grow, there is an increasing demand for professionals in fields such as game design, event management, marketing, broadcast and more. By incorporating esports into their programs, universities can provide students with the skills and experience necessary to succeed professionally. And once again, even if they don't end up working in the esports industry directly, it'll help them in any career they apply their new skills to.
Every gamer loves a LAN… ok maybe the extrovert a bit more so, but you get the point. gaming comes alive when it’s done together. Educational institutes can tap into that. An in person tournament can is as long as a piece of string and can be anything from a small event between friends, up to an arena sized international tournament - and colleges are the perfect location to host. With existing facilities, high end PC’s, super fast low latency internet, and many institutes already having broadcast equipment, it’s a natural match up and has endless benefits to new and existing students alike. In addition hosting industry esports events like networking, panels and lectures from industry professionals to speak on campus, giving students the opportunity to network and learn more about potential career paths, and industry to tap into budding talent.
Esports can also offer a new revenue stream for universities. Many universities now offer esports scholarships, which can attract talented gamers to their programs from around the world. In addition; the events mentioned above can generate revenue through ticket sales, sponsorship can come in for these events or the team itself, and merchandise sales can all bolster the bottom line, let alone the potential increase in new students seeking to be a part of the curricular and extra curricular esports activities. Some universities have even gone as far as building esports arenas on campus, which can be rented out for events and generate additional revenue.
Full Sail University Esports Arena
Esports provides countless benefits for colleges and universities, including heightened student engagement, greater revenue generation, and more career opportunities. As the industry continues to flourish, it is imperative that higher education institutions acknowledge the immense potential of esports and integrate it into their programs. By doing so, universities can more effectively captivate their students, foster a sense of community, and equip students with the tools they need to thrive in the gaming industry.