The recent appearance of competitive video game competitions on U.S television networks such as TBS and ESPN might lead one to believe that esports is only now rising to prominence, but the truth is that this hugely popular segment of the gaming industry has been consistently building for years.
Arcade classics from the 70s and 80s such as Donkey Kong laid the foundation, while the popularity of highly competitive PC games like Counter-Strike and StarCraft: Brood War in the late 90s and early 2000s formed the genesis of what esports would eventually look like today.
Esports is no longer a quirky novelty. It has grown into a massive industry that, by many relevant measures, is getting bigger each year and is continuing to trend in that direction.
According to PwC, global esports revenue jumped from $194 million in 2014 to $980 million in 2019 and they anticipate it will continue to grow and hit $1.8 billion by 2023 with media rights, sponsorships, and advertising from interested third-parties looking for an in into the industry-leading a significant portion of the growth.
Forward-thinking college universities such as the University at Albany (also known as UAlbany), located in upstate New York, have begun to embrace esports and take it as seriously as they would any athletic or academic endeavor.
UAlbany eSports has only been in existence since the 2019 spring semester, but within that short amount of time, UAlbany has formed a team that competes in eight different games, joined a conference, and has even won championships.
Twinfinite recently spoke with Michael Leczinsky, professor at the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security, and Cybersecurity at UAlbany, and leader of the UAlbany eSports program.
Starting an officially recognized esports team, securing funding to create a proper stadium and practice area, joining a conference, and then instantly competing and winning would appear to be a tall task for any school, yet that’s exactly UAlbany has achieved.
I wanted to speak with Leczinsky to get a feel for what the blueprint for success in breaking into the collegiate esports field from square one looks like.
It starts, of course, with having an enthused student population that loves video games and is eager to take it seriously and compete.
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