Most of the people playing e-sports are exceptional gamers, and to get that good at anything, you miss out on a whole bunch of other learning — like how to not be taken advantage of by game companies, how to negotiate fair wages, how to avoid getting caught up in a doping scandal, how to not be screwed over by your own thieving coaches, and above all else, how to freakin’ unionize so that you’re not killing yourself and your body for minimum wage while living in a filthy team house in order to put tremendous sacks of cash into the hands of overseas investors.
In short, you need to know a whole lot more than when to stay in your lane, and nobody inside the business has a vested interest in teaching you any of that.
One might hope that e-sports degrees, like the one recently announced by the UK’s Staffordshire University, might help young talent navigate the entirety of the e-sports business without their being preyed upon and then tossed to the curb with no future when their wrists go bad.
“Over 73 per cent of those employed within esports are under the age of 35 and their skills are in demand. Companies are looking for people who are entrepreneurial and tech savvy and the industry is driving the creation of new jobs. The course focuses on the business and culture of esports from developing teams, communities and a fan base to hosting esports events. All students will get to visit an esports arena and we are also offering a number of exciting scholarship opportunities for competitive players.”
Staffordshire will join multiple US colleges already offering coursework and grants relating to e-sports. University reps believe this degree is the first in the UK that is “dedicated to the rapidly growing global gaming industry.” In fact, it already has a smaller course dedicated to e-sports culture specifically, one that “looks at the national, and international market for esports, and the cultural aspects that drive it as well as the darker side of cheating and doping by esports players.”
Before you scoff, just remember: E-sports is now in the dictionary. ESPN has dedicated e-sports journalists and coverage. This is a thing. This is a big thing. It’s only going to get bigger. As gamers, we should be supporting this kind of education for our pro players and industry movers and shakers. Without it, we’re just condemning a bunch of street-dumb gamers to run in a Riot-branded hamster cage for our amusement.