Esport minor to join campus curriculum

Jacob Waring News Editor

The Undergraduate Curriculum Forum recently approved the introduction of an Esports minor to Southern’s catalog of undergraduate programs and degrees on Feb. 13.

According to Jim MacGregor, chairperson and professor of recreation, tourism, and sport management, the new minor will not be about students becoming a competitive player in the Esports, but instead management and event planning of Esports.

“What goes into the event, the management of the event” MacGregor said. “[includes] promotion, marketing in the experience.”

MacGregor said a colleague of his from Southern New Hampshire University told him how SNHU was developing a minor in ESports. He also said an eye-opening article that he had read about two years ago, the League of Legends Championship was viewed by more people than the Super Bowl, which was a suprise for him. Those two occurrences MacGregor said led him and others into cultivating an interest in eSports from an academic perspective and not from a player’s perspective.

“Our interest from an academic standpoint is sort of the front end of a sport,” MacGregor said. “How do you market any sport event? How do you manage any sport event? What are the things that go into somewhat playing sports with fan interest, things like that?”

Kevin McGinnis, assistant professor and graduate coordinator of Sport Management, said eSports is a billion-dollar business. “[Esports] can afford many career opportunities for our students,” McGinnis said, “Everything from management, marketing, game design, production, broadcasting [and] event management.” The goal, McGinnis said, was to prepare students to have a possible and hopefully professional opportunities in the business of Esports that goes beyond being gamers. “We have a club here which complements [the minor].” McGinnis said, “Many college campuses now are having Esport teams.”

Esports, according to McGinnis, can be labeled as club sport, varsity sport, be part of student affairs or as an offshoot of academia. The university’s eSports club hosts tournaments on campus and competes in collegiate and noncollegiate tournaments said club president, Miles Bagoly, a junior. The minor’s approval was news to Bagoly as he said he was excited to have Esports as part of the curriculum.

“That’s really great,” he said, “I’m not exactly sure if the school is ready to have any Esports minor.”

Bagoly said he was excited by the aspect of an eSports minor because it would aid the club in getting support and would help the students who want to focus on solely being a player in an Esport game. Currently, Bagoly said the logistics of playing Esports on campus has been a struggle. The club does not have a dedicated place to meet, competitive video games have yet to be installed on computers.

“I would be more than happy to create like to start allotting new roles to different people and just having everyone have their own little part,” he said.

The club, he said, has mainly focused on Smash Bro. ultimately due to the Nintendo Switch’s easy setup. McGinnis said an interdependent relationship between the minor and the club could result in practical experience for students.

“The practice experience would be everything centered around the team and the team’s needs,” McGinnis said. “[Needs such as] marketing, promotion, managing an event in those kinds of – those local events are big business.”

MacGregor said college contemporaries, much like Southern, within the state are also getting involved with Esports on various levels.

According to MacGregor, the University of New Haven recently began establishing a curriculum in Esports management while Central Connecticut State University currently has a new state of the art facility specifically for competitive gaming. “It’s a learning experience,” MacGregor said, “which is why we’re taking baby steps, we have to learn as well and learn from other universities.”

Photo Credit: Izzy Manzo

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