Competitive gaming course set for fall debut

by Matthew Graham-O'Regan / Staff Writer • January 25, 2017

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Spencer Kimball said there was an underlying interest in eSports at Emerson.
Spencer Kimball said there was an underlying interest in eSports at Emerson.

Students who find themselves gaming instead of studying may have an opportunity to do both at once next semester.

An introduction to eSports, the industry of competitive professional video gaming, will be part of the new sports communication program starting next fall. This is one of the first academic curriculums designed for eSports.

“I think the sports communication program could be one of the biggest at Emerson and the eSports program could be a defining feature,” said Gregory Payne, chair for the communication studies department.

The video game industry is no longer made up of just gamers and game designers. ESports competition organizing requires skills that go beyond just playing the games. This creates job positions that Emerson students could fulfill, according to Spencer Kimball, senior scholar-in-residence for the department of communication studies.

“What we see in eSports is the opportunity for management, the opportunity for broadcasting, the opportunity for public relations, and marketing and I think a big opportunity for sports diplomacy,” said Kimball.

Payne said the college is talking to potential candidates to teach the introductory eSports course.  

Emerson alumnus and Board of Overseers member Joshua Wachs said he introduced the idea of having an eSports major within the program last year during a meeting between the Board of Overseers and Board of Trustees, which was then accepted by the administration.

This idea, paired with the rapid growth of membership for the Emerson College eSports Organization, proved an eSports curriculum could be a worthy addition to the sports communication major, Kimball said.

Josiah Seet, sophomore marketing communication and communication studies double major, is the president of the organization. He joined the club his freshman year and has been an advocate for legitimizing eSports on campus.

“There already is an underlying interest and as an industry there is a lot of growth for potential work that our students are interested in,” Kimball said. “Our students don’t come here to be major league baseball players, they come here to be the announcers.”

Kimball said the club’s membership went from 12 to 50 in the last 8 weeks. The Emerson eSports Facebook page has 200 members.

Nick Fosman, junior communication studies major, said he sees eSports as a burgeoning field of entertainment and isn’t surprised that Emerson will be at the forefront of education for this industry.

“It’s something you like to do in your spare time with friends,” he said. “To call it a sport is a bit of a stretch.”

As the eSports curriculum moves from an introductory course to a full track within the sports communication major, there will be continued contact between the board of the eSports organization and communication department, according to Kimball.

“The work that [the eSports board] is doing is on behalf of its members, is our student voice,” Seet said.

Seet said he feels as though eSports is being validated at Emerson. If all works out, Seet said he’ll seriously consider switching into the new sports communication major.