North Carolina Colleges Enter Esports Game With Degrees, Arenas & Teams
Calling all players
North Carolina wants to become a hub for competitive multiplayer video game events – also known as esports. As such, the state’s latest budget includes millions of dollars to attract esports events. Some colleges in the state are also keen to get in on the action with custom facilities, esports teams, and new degree programs. Can NC become a destination of choice for gamers? This is the N&O special report.
Colleges across North Carolina are pushing to enter the esports business through the courses they offer, the clubs they sponsor, and the facilities they build.
And now the state is investing taxpayer dollars in two schools to help boost their esports offerings.
NC State University and UNC Greensboro received millions all at once in the recently passed state budget to build esports facilities on campus and, in NC State’s case, to send a mobile truck across the street. ‘State.
“Esport is a dynamic and exciting growth market that UNCG is uniquely positioned to lead,” said Debbie Storrs, president and executive vice-chancellor of UNCG, in a statement to The News & Observer.
“It sounds a lot like a ‘start-up’ in a very diverse academic enterprise – leveraging the strengths of our faculty with expertise in business, computing, the arts and social sciences, among others, to develop new and exciting courses. “
Esports is the umbrella term for competitive multiplayer video games and includes a wide variety of games. Esports is expected to generate $ 1.8 billion in revenue globally in 2022, according to Newzoo, which tracks esports analytics.
The State is already invested in the field. Raleigh hosted a major event in the Halo Championship Series in December, Cary’s Epic Games creates the popular ‘Fortnite’ franchise, and the state budget includes a fund with incentives for other events to take place in North Carolina .
In the fall, UNCG is launching an esports degree program through its business school and hospitality and tourism management program. The school started offering a non-degree certificate in 2021. The program will focus on the business and event management aspect of the industry.
“It’s first and foremost a business, isn’t it? Said William Brown, associate dean of the Bryan School of Business and Economics at UNCG. “So all aspects of business – accounting, finance, marketing, strategy, all of those things come into play. Part of our degree is that students take all of these courses like any other business specialty, and then we apply them. to the esport sector.
The UNCG received $ 2.4 million in the state budget for “the operating, equipment, technology, marketing and programming costs associated with establishing an esports facility on the campus “. The school had previously planned to open an arena on campus this spring, funded by Chartwells Higher Education, which does a lot of catering on campus. Students of the program will have the opportunity to organize events in the arena, once it is open.
“It’s event management with a twist,” said Erick Byrd, professor of commerce at UNCG and director of the business school’s Center for Industry Research and Engagement.
Rep. Jason Saine, a Republican from Lincolnton, introduced Bill 945 in May, proposing to create the esports incentive fund. It was not adopted, but was included in the overall state budget. Its introduction caught the attention of Andrew Cagle, the university’s director of state and external affairs. Cagle spoke to Saine about including UNCG in the larger ensemble.
“We came knocking on the door,” Cagle said.
Saine, a UNC Charlotte graduate, had a meeting with the Chancellor and was on board. “Wherever it ends in the state, I’m agnostic – if people see the vision and understand what it can mean,” he said.
Esports and Truck Facility at NC State
NC State, which has had a degree in computer game design for years, will receive $ 12 million in this and next fiscal year for the construction of an esports facility on campus. The university will also receive $ 4 million for an esports truck, capable of bringing the technology to other parts of the state.
“We have all the pieces as a STEM education university and land grant with extension and outreach. I think it’s a good choice, ”said Marc Hoit, vice-chancellor for information technology.
The installation is unlikely to be completed until at least next year. The mobile truck may take longer, but Hoit envisions it being rolled out statewide, perhaps allowing competition at remote locations in rural or other areas of the state and used as a production facility.
Hoit is leading a campus-wide committee to coordinate the school’s efforts in this area, including finding a facility that can be used to house the arena and considering what should be included in the mobile truck.
Hoit said the Triangle is ideally located to become a leader in the region given the number and quality of tech companies and universities, as well as locations.
Like traditional sports venues, which vary in size and scale to accommodate everything from recreational games to large college or professional events, esports venue needs vary. Not everything requires a massive space like the PNC Arena or the Raleigh Convention Center.
This is where small facilities, like those under construction at NC State and UNC Greensboro, can fit in.
“We can create week-long events like the Bluegrass Festival where people come in and have smaller events that end up leveraging and turning into a competitive tournament or the big main events in the convention center or in some larger stadiums or performing arts centers, ”Hoit said. “This is the vision.”
Wake Tech, Peace and UNC
Schools are not alone in their quest for esports.
Wake Tech has an esports team that competes with the National Junior College Athletic Association Esports (NJCAAE), which hosts 12-game competitions, and an arena on campus. In their first season, the Eagles won the National Spring Championship in “Overwatch” in May. They were the seed in the fall playoffs after going 9-0 in the regular season, but lost in the national semifinals.
UNC-Chapel Hill built the Carolina Gaming Arena in Craige Residence Hall. It has 36 PC stations and over 10 game consoles, and students can book game time. The school also has teams that participate in the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE).
William Peace University, a private college in Raleigh, announced in February that it would begin offering a degree in esports and gaming administration in the fall of 2021, The N&O previously reported. The goal was to have 25 graduates in five years.
“It’s so clear to me that this will be a growing area and need,” Roger Christman, chair of the school’s Art, Communications and Simulation and Game Design department, told The N&O in February. “Our job is to prepare our students for the jobs of tomorrow.
The Peace program includes courses in marketing, computer science, sports psychology, and accounting.
“The 16-17 year olds know esport. They understand it. We can attract them and we can bring them here. Through this four-year process, we can educate and help them get out there and be a leader, ”Christman said.