Emerson is launching a series of eSports “meet ups,” aimed at connecting professionals, students, and enthusiasts in the emerging industry, as well as positioning the College at the head of a growing educational field.
The meet ups were suggested by Evan Walker, senior marketing associate at DraftKings, Inc., and former eSports manager for the Boston-based fantasy sports site, said Spencer Kimball, senior scholar-in-residence in the Communication Studies Department. Walker reached out to Kimball and Joshua Wachs '87, a member of the Board of Advisors (formerly Board of Overseers) after reading about Emerson’s new eSports program, and suggested starting meet ups similar to those he launched in New York City last year.
“We connected students with Evan to organize these events, which is the type of real world networking we provide our students,” Kimball said over email. “We are hoping that eSports professionals, enthusiasts, and colleagues attend the monthly meet up, and we hope Emerson will earn the mantle as the leader in eSports education.”
Kimball said the plan is to run meet ups the third Monday of each month in the Max Mutchnick Campus Center Skybox, with 15 to 20 people expected at each event. The first meet up will be held March 20, 6:00-8:00 pm.
The study of eSports (organized, competitive multi-player video games played by professionals), with a particular focus on the business, promotion, and broadcasting of events, is a unique aspect of Emerson’s new Sports Communication program, officially launching in Fall 2017.
There are plenty of good reasons for Emerson to be in the forefront of eSports education.
Kimball cited a Forbes projection that jobs within the industry will expand by 400 percent by 2018. From a broadcasting perspective, in 2016, eSports viewership exceeded all comparable traditional sports, Kimball said, with an estimated 16 billion minutes spent watching live eSports events worldwide.
Washington, D.C. is sponsoring an eSports team and is building a 4,200-seat multipurpose arena to host it, Kimball added, and locally, Delaware North, whose chairman owns the Boston Bruins, is buying a piece of an eSports team.
The meet ups will be informal networking events, but will also be places where participants can delve into topics such as emerging markets, the future of the industry, and the impact of eSports on society and culture, Kimball said.
This fall may be the first time students can formally study eSports at Emerson, but it’s hardly new to campus.
Josiah Seet ‘19 is president of Emerson eSports, a four-year old Student Government Association-recognized campus organization.
“Emerson eSports is a link between a lot of the academic things the Sports Communications [program] wants to achieve [and]…the students who are the ones who are interested and driving the eSports events within Emerson,” Seet, a double Communication Studies/Marketing Communication major, said.
Last November, the group, in conjunction with the Communication Studies Department, hosted the final round of a tournament involving six schools playing the video game Hearthstone.
In April, the department and Emerson eSports will again team up to host a larger tournament in the Paramount Center’s Robert J. Orchard Stage involving eight regional colleges and universities playing three games: Hearthstone, League of Legends, and Overwatch, Seet said. Like the last time, the tourney will begin online, with the finalists converging at Emerson for the championship. All the broadcasters and crew will be Emerson students.
Seet said his group has about 200 members on its private Facebook page, with varying levels of involvement and specific interest.
The meet ups are another way for Emerson to network with interested students at other schools, as well as people in the industry who can assist them in their careers, and whom Emerson graduates, with their unique skills, can help.
“We’re definitely focused, not just on playing at a very competitive level,” Seet said. “We’re also looking to find that inter[section] between video games and this emerging industry, and Emerson’s unique skills in production in hosting and broadcasting.”