Gamers from more than 10 Boston-area colleges and universities and the University of Connecticut will converge on Emerson’s Paramount Center on Sunday, April 16, for The Collegiate Invitational, a one-day Super Smash Bros. tournament.
The Invitational is the signature event of the semester for Emerson eSports, the campus group organizing the tournament with Big Blue eSports, a Boston-based tournament and content producer.
It’s also, if you ask Emerson eSports President Josiah Seet ’19 and Communication Studies Chair Greg Payne, a sign of things to come for Emerson’s eSports classes, launching with the department’s new Sports Communication major next fall.
“Emerson eSports (EES) and the Communication Studies Department want Emerson College to become the central hub for New England eSports,” Seet said, “and that comes in the form of hosting a tournament, that comes in the form of being the first big academic institution to start offering courses [in eSports], and that comes in the form of hosting networking events where leaders and students [meet].”
ESports—organized, competitive, multi-player video games—is exploding in terms of popularity, and Emerson wants to be the first and best “academic incubator” for the business side of the industry.
“Think about it,” Payne said, “eSports has got a bigger fan base than MLB, FIFA, and the NFL put together.”
Payne said he’s also excited about the chance to collaborate with the Communication Studies Department’s partners at Blanquerna School of Communication in Barcelona, where gaming is huge as well.
The student group has started hosting Boston-area networking events for people interested in eSports. And last semester, EES dipped its toes in the fast-growing world of eSports by hosting the final round of a six-school Hearthstone tournament at the Emerson Visitor Center.
Sunday’s event, which will feature four simultaneous games of Super Smash Bros. and will be live streamed on Twitch.tv, promises to be a much bigger deal. There will be more schools, partners from the wider world of eSports, and greater opportunities for Emerson students to get experience doing what they do best—broadcasting, production, marketing—in an eSports context.
That’s crucial, Seet said, because that’s what the industry needs most right now.
“Emerson is an academic institution that specializes in a lot of skills and professions that the eSports industry is lacking right now because of how grassroots the whole industry started off,” Seet said, rattling off job titles like video production, event production, sports management. “There’s a real need for educated professionals, and as the industry develops at a rapid pace, people can’t keep ‘figuring things out’ anymore.”
Nathaniel Peterman ’19, a Media Arts Production major, is helping Invitational organizers to “figure things out” for Sunday. Originally brought on as an associate director of the tournament, his role kind of morphed into more of a producer.
He’s been coordinating equipment, crew members, and production design, and working with Emerson Independent Video (EIV), the student-run TV station, and its portable studio.
“One of the great things I love about my time here at Emerson is it lets me work on a variety of broadcast projects,” Peterman said. “[A career in eSports] is definitely something I’ve thought about, and having opportunities like this is really good, because it lets you get experience in a similar event to what would be happening in the industry.”
The Collegiate Invitational will be held Sunday, April 16, 12:00–6:00 pm, in the Paramount’s Robert J. Orchard Stage. For more information, visit the Facebook event.