Two Emerson College students traveled to Los Angeles last month to attend the 2017 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) to find out what the competitive gaming industry is looking for in college graduates, and to spread the word about Emerson’s burgeoning esports track.
Josiah Seet ’19, president of Emerson eSports (EES) who attended with fellow EES member Aaron Van Leesten ’19, said the two were taken around to meet industry insiders by Kevin Mitchell, a National Amusements executive who will co-teach the College’s new Introduction to Esports Management course in the fall.
“We were able to talk with [people in the business], ask them what the industry is like, ask what they need from colleges—what skills do college students need to come out with,” Seet, a Communication Studies major, said.
Seet and Van Leesten didn’t even know they’d be going to the convention until about two days beforehand. Mitchell suggested to Payne that he send a couple of students on the Friday before the event; on Monday, they were on a plane. Another Esports Management co-teacher, Big Blue Esports co-founder Shi Deng, helped them get passes.
Seet said because esports is such a new industry, very few people are being hired with all the necessary skills to organize, produce, and promote tournaments, costing companies a lot of money to train people. Emerson is looking to be a national leader in teaching students the business and production side of esports.
The Emerson delegation was also able to mingle with students from the University of California-Irvine—the top school in terms of collegiate esports teams. Seet said they talked about some ways the two could work together through the Emerson Los Angeles program. The department will also work on finding internship opportunities in LA, he said.
Finding collaboration opportunities was one of the main goals of E3 for the students, Seet said.
“You don’t become a legitimate name in the industry by writing a lot of research papers, though that will come eventually,” he said. “Right now, you become legitimate in the industry if you’re sort of doing things with people and your students are working with [industry leaders].”
Payne said a critical component of studying esports at Emerson will be hands-on experience, hosting esports summits and collegiate tournaments, as well as collaborations with local universities such as UMass Boston and MIT, as well as Emerson’s partner in Spain, Blanquerna University.
A lot of the program’s success will be driven by the students themselves, he said.
“By the two going to the conference, it really demonstrates how serious we are at wanting it to be student-centered,” Payne said. “We believe the synergy between students and teachers make this a prototype for esports. With Emerson’s focus on communication, we think we are poised to lead the way.”