Galloway, N.J. — Going to college hasn’t really been on Keyoni Benjamin’s mind.
The Middle Township High School senior said she was perfectly content graduating and
just getting a job. But that changed on March 6 after visiting Stockton University’s
“It’s really cool here. I think I might go,” said the 18-year-old from Vineland who
loves playing Overwatch. “At first, I was like I don’t really want to go to college
and just get a job. But after looking around the campus and seeing the esports team,
I think I might come here.”
Stockton esports supporters hope Benjamin is the first of many students who see the university as
not just a great place to play video games and compete in events, but also to take
classes leading to a possible degree or a career in the growing field.
global esports audience by 2024
Stockton hosted 28 kids from Middle Township’s esports team, including those taking
the university’s new dual-credit Introduction to Esports class. The students were
given a tour of Stockton’s gaming lab and provided with lunch where advisors spoke
about the expected launch this fall of the university’s new Bachelor of Science in
Esports Management degree.
“One of the things we talked about was the size of the industry and the wide variety
of opportunities that are available,” said Jennifer Aarons, a teaching specialist
in Stockton’s Hospitality, Tourism and Event Management program.
Aarons said the global esports audience is expected to reach 286 million enthusiasts
by 2024 with an additional 291.6 million occasional viewers. She also mentioned that
global esports revenue is expected to grow to $1.6 billion by 2024.
The students played games in Stockton’s dedicated esports facility, which opened in
2019. But during the tour, Aarons and Demetrious Roubos, Stockton’s information security
officer and esports program manager, also presented opportunities to learn about the
broadcast and technological aspects of streaming esports events and how to create
live content with video, voice and in-game analysis.
“The students that came in participated in a tournament either as a player in the
game or as shoutcasters or those who comment on the matches,” Aarons said. “We also
had some students working on the engineering side — making sure the streaming feed
“We went through all the different opportunities within the whole esports ecosystem
that they can potentially get jobs in.”
Middle Township High School students get a chance to not just play games put serve
as shoutcasters or commentators for the games their fellow students were playing.
The Middle Township teachers and coaches were thrilled their students got to see esports
at “the next level.”
“It’s good for them to see there are opportunities where you can get into esports
and not just the game play,” said Ryan Freyer, who teaches an esports class at Middle.
“Now, they’ve realized it’s not just playing games, but there’s a whole industry around
it. It’s good to get in at the ground level because it’s something that’s developing.”
The event also provided the high school students with a chance to visit a college
campus, something that many haven’t ever done, said Middle Esports Coach Christopher
“Several students that we brought today would never have visited a college campus,”
he said. “Without this program, they may not have the opportunity to ever attend college.
This is a passion for them. This opens their eyes. This brought students to higher
education for the first time. That’s important to me.”
For senior Robert Benner, the tour completely changed his opinion of Stockton.
“They are supporting this program, which is great,” said the 17-year-old from Cape
May Court House. “Having it be a major here is awesome. I’m very passionate about
esports and having it be my future job is just awesome.”
global esports revenue by 2024
Middle Township is the first school Stockton has partnered with for a dual-credit esports course. Aarons said the university is working with other local high schools
to develop more programs.
“We want to get kids to come to Stockton,” Aarons said. “Of the students here today,
seven of them raised their hand saying they would be interested in a career in esports.
That’s just a small portion of the potential that we have.”
Castor was definitely excited about his school’s partnership with Stockton and the
clout it could bring for both schools.
“I can’t tell you how many kids I heard say, ‘I want to go here,’ in the last 20 minutes,”
he said. “They are amazed that their passion is a legitimate career.”
— Story by Mark Melhorn, photos by Jennifer Aarons
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