Studying videogames is nothing new. Just about everywhere offers courses in game design, development and coding, not to mention marketing, writing and media. If none of those things float your boat, maybe you should consider Staffordshire University in the UK, where you can study a bachelor degree in eSports.
It sounds bizarre, but this is legit. The eSports BA (Hons) is a three-year degree that promises to cover all elements of pro-gaming – including learning about the culture and fan-bases of the game, to hosting and promoting gaming events. There more to it than just playing games – students are expected to plan, develop and implement eSports events of growing complexity over the span of the course – by the third year, students will create a “large-scale, commercial venue event with team players and a prize fund”.
On the gaming side, though, there are six “competitive societies” covered: League of Legends, DOTA2, Hearthstone, Counter-Strike, Overwatch and Super Smash Bros – with events “in the UK and overseas” promised for each. (We’re not sure if you need to already be good at your chosen game, or if that’s taught in additional lectures.)
This is a brand new course set to kick off in September 2018 (so you’ve got some time to work out how to get to Stoke-on-Trent), and fits under the University’s Tourism and Events umbrella.
Breaking things down a bit:
Year 1 is an introduction to “eSports Cultures”, focussing on streaming and the “business of competitive gaming” when it comes to event marketing and organisation.
Year 2 looks at the technical and PR side of eSports events, as the students put together a team-based competition of their own, including casting and hosting.
By Year 3, students will be “totally immersed in eSports events”, learning about community management and legal issues while putting together a large-scale commercial event.
At the end of the degree, students will also have drawn up business plans for their own eSports companies – so expect an influx of those from around 2021.
It’s not the first time Staffordshire has paid attention to the growing games industry – the University is “considered to be one of the largest and best games universities in the UK”. Courses are offered in games development, animation and games studies. This new degree is focussing on “employability”, aiming to serve students a chunk of the US$500 million eSports industry.