Now, gamers can get university degrees in esports
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.
Students enrolled in UK’s Staffordshire University’s esports degree course play ‘Counter-Strike’ in the school’s London digital studio