Now, gamers can get uni­ver­sity de­grees in es­ports

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Trends -

CLASSY GAMES: Lon­don: On their first week in class, a group of stu­dents is play­ing a first-per­son shooter video game in a sleek new dig­i­tal stu­dio. It’s their in­tro­duc­tion to the de­gree in es­ports they have all en­rolled in.

The group click­ing away on their mice are at the Uni­ver­sity of Stafford­shire, one of sev­eral UK and US schools launch­ing pro­gramms aimed at cap­i­tal­is­ing on the boom­ing in­dus­try’s need for skilled pro­fes­sion­als.

Ryan Chap­man, 18, said his par­ents were “skep­ti­cal at first” about study­ing es­ports, or com­pet­i­tive mul­ti­player videogam­ing. “But now they un­der­stand how big the in­dus­try is grow­ing, the pace it’s grow­ing at. They’re now re­ally all for it be­cause it’s a great in­dus­try to start to get into,” said Chap­man, who was among the stu­dents in the lab play­ing Counter-Strike, one of the most pop­u­lar es­ports games.

The Uni­ver­sity of Stafford­shire last year launched its bach­e­lor’s and mas­ter’s es­ports pro­gramms, in which stu­dents mainly learn mar­ket­ing and management skills tai­lored to the in­dus­try. This au­tumn, it’s ex­pand­ing the pro­gramme to Lon­don while other schools are also de­but­ing es­ports de­gree cour­ses, in­clud­ing Bri­tain’s Chich­ester Uni­ver­sity, Vir­ginia’s Shenan­doah Uni­ver­sity, Becker Col­lege in Mas­sachusetts and The Ohio State Uni­ver­sity. In Asia, where es­ports has seen strong growth, schools in Sin­ga­pore and China of­fer cour­ses.

“It’s no longer kids play­ing games in their base­ment,” said Alan Ri­tacco, dean of Becker Col­lege’s School of De­sign and Tech­nol­ogy. The top es­ports play­ers now earn al­most as much as the high­est paid stars in tra­di­tional sports, he said.

A busi­ness fo­cus helps to ease wor­ries among stu­dents and par­ents about pay­ing tu­ition for de­grees that have no track record. In Bri­tain, stan­dard tu­ition fees are set at £9,250 a year while the US pro­gramms charge as much as $36,000 a year.

“There’s al­ways go­ing to be risks but I have zero re­grets,” said 26-year-old El­lis Celia, who is start­ing the Stafford­shire course.

AP

Stu­dents en­rolled in UK’s Stafford­shire Uni­ver­sity’s es­ports de­gree course play ‘Counter-Strike’ in the school’s Lon­don dig­i­tal stu­dio

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