Alexandra Warren-Carrasco has been an avid League of Legends player for years. Throughout high school and later, community college, the virtual world was an important social outlet for her. But when she transferred to California State University Dominguez Hills (CSUDH), which offers an esports club, she realized her love of gaming could open up a new world of possibilities not just for social connections, but for her career.
“[The club] really engaged me in the school,” she says. “That in turn made me want to build a community here — and to help make sure that others could get that same experience.”
Within months, she ended up as the president of the CSUDH Esports Association, managing several competitive teams, hosting and speaking at events, and developing strategies for growing club membership. She also parlayed her love of gaming into product specialist roles at the esports consulting company Esport Supply and now at HyperX, a gaming peripherals company recently acquired by HP — experiences that could lead to more professional opportunities after graduation.
Esports, or electronic sports, are big business today, with projected revenues of $1.8 billion in 2022. Insider Intelligence reports there will be more than 29 million monthly esports viewers in the US by the end of 2022, an 11.5% uptick from 2021.
Pro gamers now have the potential to earn more than winners of Wimbledon, but there are also lucrative job opportunities off the virtual field — roles that make the gameplay possible, like marketing, event management, broadcasting, business operations, and more. As such, many colleges and universities are developing esports-centric curricula to encourage students to learn every facet of the industry, from coding skills and game design to business development and corporate partnerships.
“Developing an esports and gaming curriculum provides our scholars with the tools to enter career pathways and succeed beyond their [gaming] controller,” explains BerNadette Lawson-Williams, founder and advisor of Johnson C. Smith University’s (JCSU) Esports and Gaming Trifecta, the first such program at a Historically Black College or University.
A new arena of opportunity
At the University of Kentucky, one of the first educational institutions in the US to embrace esports, there’s a dedicated 6,000-square-foot space where students can access state-of-the-art gaming hardware including consoles, PCs, headsets, microphones, keyboards, and more. They hone everything from technical know-how to less tangible skills like networking and teamwork.