The University of Arizona, which converted its Student Union Memorial Center into an esports arena, launched Arizona Esports in 2021 to build on its thriving community of gaming enthusiasts. The university also established varsity teams to compete in several popular games—including Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate—and students can now earn a minor in esports.
At the University of North Carolina – Wilmington, Professor Ray Pastore, himself a long-time gamer, wanted to gauge interest in forming an esports club on campus. Pastore expected around five students to attend the club’s inaugural meeting. “We had more than 120 students show up that day,” he says.
In 2019, UNC-W started its first esports team and, in 2020, introduced undergraduate and graduate certificate programs in esports performance and management through its Watson College of Education. Undergraduate courses include Esports Leadership, Development, and Coordination; Streaming Audio and Video for Esports and Gaming; and Esports Coaching and Team Development.
“Our esports program does several things,” Pastore says. “It teaches students about the industry, allows them to create projects that they can use as part of a work portfolio, and opens up internship possibilities for those interested in getting into the gaming and esports space.” The skill set also creates broader tech literacy, he says. “For example, the ability to stream and create content is a skill that will be beneficial for all industries going forward. Gamers just happen to be early adopters.”