$493 million. That’s the perceived value of the global esports market in 2017. Some expect that number to triple over the next couple of years, reaching $1.5 billion by 2020. In this article we will be talking about Colleges For Esport And Gaming.
But, with the help of advertisers and investors, that number is rising much faster.
In 2017, investors contributed $750 million, making up 50% of the worldwide market size.
Advertisers and sponsors contributed over $250 million. Those numbers put the end-of-2017 market valuation of esports at 1.5 billion dollars. End-of-year projections expect esports to be a $2.3 billion market in 2022.
That’s some serious growth. And now, US colleges are jumping on board the global esports train:
Only seven colleges and universities had varsity esports programs in July of 2016. By 2018 there were 63 institutions.
The NACE program describes a varsity esports program as “the principal teams representing a college or university. Primarily these teams compete against similar teams at peer educational institutions.”
Esports, of course, are video games play competitively. This can be anything from 5 v 5 teamwork-testers like League of Legends, to 1 v 1 strategy-dominant Hearthstone, to anything-can-happen PUBG, and beyond.
Esports training facilities are more affordable than in regular sports training facilities. And, with the right sponsors, some programs don’t have to worry about supplying the gaming chairs, or high-end computers, or other gear.
And an esports training facility doesn’t need a new, state-of-the-art million dollar building. Many schools recommission old rooms that aren’t seeing much use. They gut it, spruce it up, and fill it with gaming gear.
Boom, there’s your varsity esports training facility.
When you think about the kind of money that’s dumped into sports (even state taxpayer money, for things like stadiums), it’s impressive to think that they’re getting outwatched by esports. Part of this could be the ease of viewing, since big tournaments, like the League of Legends Worlds, are free to watch and based online.
All you need is internet access. That’s significantly easier than, say, finding free MLB World Series coverage online (hint: barring free trials to service providers, a free option does not exist).
It’s accessible, it’s already popular, and now advertisers and sponsors are dumping hundreds of million dollars into it. If colleges continue to get on board with varsity programs (they show no signs of slowing down), this will be a “thing” in no time.
Colleges For Esport And Gaming: Future Implications?
While many in positions of power are slow to accept the place esports have in this world, everything is moving in the right direction.
The reason for the slow-to-adopt mindset probably rests in the stigma of playing video games: A lazy human’s pastime. A waste of time. Nerdy. Child’s entertainment. Just kids playing games.
The people in positions of power don’t all understand what esports really are. They don’t see the value in it, or they don’t care to see the value in it, likely because of some preconceived notions or some bad intel.
If you think about it, every college sport can be distilled to “kids playing games,” as Phil Alexander, a Miami University professor who teaches game design and co-directs the varsity esports team at Miami, said in an interview with Rolling Stone.
In his interview, Alexander says he’d “be shocked if we don’t see major collegiate varsity leagues by 2020.”
More colleges are joining every month, even with the $2500 registration fee instituted by NACE.
There’s another element that Alexander mentions which is really fascinating, which Brian Crecente captures well in his article: “[Alexander] sees the connection between pro players and college reversed from traditional sports. In esports…most pro-gamers’ careers end at 27 or 28 and then they want to go back to school.”
Which, as Alexander goes on to point out, would mean collegiate varsity esports could be a viable end of career option for professional esports competitors. They could get post-career scholarships, still have a place in esports, and get the education they bypassed to go pro in games in the first place.
It seems like a real win-win.
The growth of esports has everyone excited: even cities are getting involved.
Arlington, Texas, for example, is building a $10 million stadium.
They’re talking about a 100,000-square-foot space that “will be the largest and most flexible esports stadium in the country.”
And this esports center isn’t even a new construction: they’re “transforming previously underutilized space of the Arling Convention Center,” which “showcases the adaptive re-use potential of esports. This innovative transformation of space is also comparatively inexpensive and more efficient than new construction. ”
If you’re wondering about the dynamics of varsity esports, or you’re interested in becoming a varsity player yourself, this next section is for you (Keep in mind that the list of colleges with varsity esports programs grows almost daily).
1. Colleges For Esport And Gaming: Miami University (of Ohio)
Miami University of Ohio is a school in Division I athletics. They were the first top-tier US university to launch a varsity eSports program, and it’s worked out well for them: Their varsity Overwatch team took first place in the NACE Overwatch Tournament for the 2017 season.
The varsity esports program formed after their popular student-run eSports club started asking the university for an official varsity program (if you’re in a successful esports club at your college, but don’t have a varsity team in place, it never hurts to start asking for one!).
2. Boise State University (Idaho)
Boise State University is another Division I school (and, while the athletic division of a school doesn’t matter for esports – yet – it doesn’t hurt to have the support of D1 programs behind the movement).
Boise State University is part of NACE, through which they compete against other colleges in organized tournaments. The varsity program is open to both part and full-time students, undergraduates, and graduates alike.
BSU also participates in tournaments from other organizations like Collegiate Star League, TESPA, uLOL and more.
A list of their current games lineup includes Overwatch, Hearthstone, Rocket League, League of Legends, and Heroes of the Storm.
3. Colleges For Esport And Gaming: Georgia Southern University (Georgia)
The Georgia Southern University (Division I) Eagles took second place in the NACE Overwatch championship, losing a nailbiter to Miami University in the 2017 season.
Their official Southern Collegiate Gaming website describes what they do in the varsity esports program as:
- “Empowering: We empower gamers mentally physically and spiritually in order to prepare them for the real world.’
- “Equipping: We equip our gamers with high-performance resources and tools to ensure their success and victory.”
- “Challenging: We challenge our gamers to always be better than the day before by creating a strong competitive atmosphere built around teamwork.”
They have teams for a number of games: Overwatch, Rocket League, Super Smash Bros., PUBG, League of Legends, Call of Duty, and CS: GO. They also have a number of 1st and 2nd place finishes in various collegiate tournaments.
4. Georgia State University (Georgia)
Georgia State University (Division I) joined the world of varsity esports in the 17-18 academic year. They’re part of both NACE and the GEL (which stands for Georgia Esports League).
Georgia State University holds members of the varsity team “to a high academic standard and [they] must maintain eligibility at levels required for a HOPE scholarship.”
Their first season games included:
- Brawlhalla (in the Georgia Esports League)
- League of Legends (in the NACE League)
- Smite (in the NACE League)
The university uses Twitch to live stream their tournament and competition participation. Georgia State University “esports efforts include student participation in broadcasting, production, and marketing of esports and tournaments, coaching, student management, and game development.”
5. Colleges For Esport And Gaming: University of California-Irvine (California)
UCI (Division I) was “the first public university to create an official esports program and is regarded as one of the best and most comprehensive in the world.”
The program officially started in 2016. That same year, they opened the UCI eSports Arena and started offering scholarships to their League of Legends players.
UCI promotes four “pillars” in their esports program:
- Competition: They “recruit the best gamers in the world to compete for [their] teams in the top collegiate leagues in North America. [They] offer scholarships to players for both League of Legends and Overwatch.”
- Academics & Research: They’re big on games-related research. As an example, they point to a study that showed how memory could be improved by playing Minecraft (and other 3D immersive games).
- Community: UCI has a bunch of gaming clubs, and the club teams get access to jerseys, the arena, and even some travel expenses.
- Entertainment: UCI puts some focus on streaming and hosting, with their shoutcasting/streaming station in the arena. They also host local tournaments for both recreational and competitive players.
These were some of the top colleges that offers courses like esports and gaming. Let us know in the comments of you have any doubts we will try to solve it.