UNC Greensboro today announced a multi-faceted set of initiatives to seize the growing demand among current and prospective students for a holistic approach to the booming world of esports. These include the launch of new, non-credit bearing digital certificate programs ranging from game design to marketing and monetization courses as well as the construction of a new state-of-the-art, on-campus esports facility that will host potential competitions, recreational game play, research and academic activities, and other events. Visit esports.uncg.edu to learn more about esports at UNCG.
These actions represent initial steps by UNCG to tap into growing demand for esports facilities and curriculum among students and increasing opportunities in esports as a career path for graduates.
Esports’ popularity has been on the upswing for years. Industry experts predict the global esports market will exceed $1.5 billion in 2021, and by 2022 there will be close to 300 million esports participants.
“We believe we can create over time a comprehensive set of academic, social, and cultural experiences around esports at UNCG that adheres to our fundamental principles of delivering opportunity, excellence, and access to a vast array of students from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences,” said UNCG Chancellor Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr. “UNCG can establish a unique, compelling leadership position in our region by moving quickly to not only build the infrastructure and certificate programs needed as we launch, but also by ensuring we approach this opportunity first and foremost as a way to connect with our students, prepare them for a hot new opportunity in the market that is growing right here in North Carolina, and keeping our eyes on the important research we do around community engagement and real-world impact. We are optimistic about the potential we have to grow, innovate, and break new ground in this exciting arena.”
Details on the digital certificate programs will be announced later this spring with the goal of launching programs as early as Fall 2021. Courses are expected to focus on areas like leadership and administration of esports, marketing and sponsorship management, tournament design, fan engagement, coaching and training, and leveraging esports to fuel community enrichment and engagement. Initially these will be non-credit courses delivered online. UNCG is moving quickly into the market with a non-credit bearing, continual learning experience while it takes the time to develop the academic program.
UNCG is setting up a new state-of-the-art, on-campus esports facility in the heart of Moran Commons that will support potential competitions, recreational game play, research and academic activities, and other events. The gaming facility is slated to be around 3,300 square feet, include more than 36 PCs and at least four gaming consoles, four large video walls and eight large screen video panels to facilitate shared experiences, and have other areas for collaboration and academic instruction.
Strategic direction and operational decisions around the esports initiative are being led by the UNCG esports Executive Committee. Dr. Karen Bull, dean of UNCG Online, and Todd Sutton, associate vice chancellor for learning technology and customer success, have been named by Chancellor Gilliam as project managers and co-chairs of the committee, and will report to Chancellor Gilliam directly on this effort. This group is charged with overall project management, coordination among numerous stakeholders to ensure the approach serves the entire UNCG community, launching programs and measuring success, and ensuring long-term governance of all esports initiatives.
UNCG already has an established esports and gaming club on campus, with nearly 100 current members – and counting – actively competing in games like League of Legends, Super Smash Brothers, and Overwatch. Many compete at the ELITE level. Their games can often be viewed on Twitch: twitch.tv/uncgesports. The club also participates in ECAC tournaments.