The growth of competitive multiplayer gaming has evolved from the couch to the classroom.
Educational programs for esports—short for electronic sports—have been established at three universities and colleges in the First State, underscoring the widespread integration of esports into academic settings. The programs aim to equip students with knowledge in the fields of esports management, organizing gaming conventions and the broader aspects of game distribution.
The University of Delaware (UD) offers a Bachelor of Arts in games studies and esports that focuses on game design and development and esports management, supported by the UD Blue Hens esports team.
Sophomore and esports major James Saunders says his experience has enabled him to grow both as a player and a person. “It is a place where we can get together as a community to enjoy and play in our shared passion for gaming and esports,” he says.
While schools across the country race to add new esports programs, UD esports coordinator and head coach Kiernan Ensor says this has led to directionless programs, and in some cases, professors not qualified for their positions. He recommends a hybrid model that focuses on esports journalism or broadcast as a major, explaining, “These provide more specific skills as well as [those] that can be transferable to adjacent fields.”
This fall, Goldey–Beacom College in Pike Creek introduced a Bachelor of Science in business administration with a concentration in esports and gaming administration. The curriculum was constructed within the athletics department with gaming developers to include four courses in gaming administration.
“Given our existing infrastructure within the Department of Athletics, instead of launching the esports program as a function of student life, we’ve adopted esports within our existing athletics infrastructure, which includes scheduling, scholarships and a conference,” says Jeremy Benoit, director of athletics.
Wilmington University (WilmU) also recently announced the addition of an 18-credit certificate program in esports that will target marketing, programming and web design. The program pairs with 15 bachelor’s degrees that tie into the gaming field while allowing for the program to be flexible to evolve as the industry demands.
“It is about the students…giving them the option to really explore what they are interested in through esports,” says WilmU liberal arts director Matthew Wilson. “And even if esports is just a hobby, it’s not boxing them into one career down the line.”
The university has partnered with Future First Gaming (FFG), a Delaware–based esports company, for students to receive six credits from the FFG workforce development program in game design, marketing, video editing and management.
While educational background plays a critical role to prepare students for the workforce, this is not always the case, Malcolm Coley, chief technology officer of FFG, points out.
“YouTube university is one of the best ways to learn about esports,” he says. “There is no ‘no way’ to get educated in esports—multiple pathways can help you to secure a job in the esports and tech industries.”