Staffordshire University is looking at “Careers of the Future” and using that notion to shape its degree offerings.
A BA (Hons) in Esports is available at both its Stoke-on-Trent and London campuses, with a view to expand into other emerging careers.
Breaking the norm
Staffordshire University currently runs plenty of courses in Computer Games, ranging from Design to Programming - but now they are looking towards the events side of the business with the degree in Esports.
Written by Rachel Gowers and Dr Bobbie Fletcher, the course was put together amongst others to look at the leading jobs markets in the years ahead, and the degree itself was born in 2018 - the first Esports degree in the UK.
UNIQUE - Imagine studying here
Matt Huxley, Esports lecturer said: “In Stoke, the students are one year ahead of our London students, with some entering their third year, but we do have masters students graduating this year, so they will be the first people with any form of degree in this field.
Although the course may sound specialist, there are still plenty of avenues students can go down, says Matt.
“Careers-wise, the students have come in with very different goal-orientated things they want to get out at the end of it.
“There’s a healthy mix of people just doing it as an academic route, to go on and do a masters and then a PhD.
“Some are looking at it from a sociology point of view, others like the practical side of the business that I do, which issue work placements as well as their final project running a huge event - the Esports Expo.”
ALUMN - Lecturer Matt Huxley was Esports Manager at Gfinity
The Esports Expo is due to be in London this year, Covid depending, and the event works with a number of teams and partners, run by the students at a big festival.
With multiple stages, a press area and all the trimmings of a live event, the students in their larger groups decide who runs what - single-player events, multiplayer, or elsewhere.
“We’ve had a few partnerships already,” says Matt, “I had four students at Blast Premier - they needed some player admins. So they worked there for five weeks, and we also had internships at Esports Insider.”
Will others follow suit?
Matt believes that other universities will follow Staffordshire’s lead in pushing the boundaries in modern degrees.
“Even before the degree was published, people were looking for esports degrees already, as shown by 120 students in the first year.
CENTRE STAGE - No other university is offering such a degree
“That demand is way more than your advertising can carry you initially, and people were asking for this kind of thing way before and we were just first to market.
“The focus from the university is all about new careers, and what’s exciting and different, tailoring the degrees to the emerging markets.”
The London campus has opened up networking opportunities for the students, with the likes of Cyber Security, Fintech and Esports careers likely to be based in London.
Future of Esports
With the Coronavirus questioning live events, even the world of esports has been affected by the pandemic.
Matt, who is a former Esports Manager at Gfinity said: “It’s a regression to what esports was, so it has felt like a bit of a step back.
“What we’ve seen from esports as an events-based business, of people hosting gaming tournaments for media buy-in at that traditional line, is a regression to a few years ago where so much more is going to solely online as opposed to in-person.”
It’s not all bad news, however, with the events side of the business becoming incredibly relevant and cheaper.
ALL BASES COVERED - More than meets the eye in the Esports degree
People are also getting a lot smarter with some of the online tournaments, using technology and ideas that were used for live events for online play, like broadcast quality for example.
We’ve now seen traditional sports have to tap into the esports model, linking to various presenters and pundits in different countries, as well as supplying a digital audience with mass video calls.
With Staffordshire offering such a widespread of options in the gaming and esports space, along with new courses to come, they are becoming the destination for education in emerging markets.