by: Kyle Fennell, SUNY University Faculty Senate Communications Committee
Esports is growing at an unprecedented rate in the SUNY System!
Canton, NY – A few short years ago, SUNY Canton became the first college in New York to join the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE), competing with roughly 40 other colleges and universities in the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC), after garnering recognition as a Division III Varsity sport at the college. SUNY Canton would open the first collegiate esports arena in the SUNY System, making it one of the largest dedicated gaming spaces in the Northeast. The 1,800 square-foot, $500,000 esports arena houses 25 high-end gaming stations, each equipped with ergonomic gaming chairs, multicolored LED backlit mechanical keyboards, and mice. Home of the first Varsity Esports team in the SUNY System, the arena was designed after a professional gaming space and includes a streaming station for collegiate matches.
Esports has since grown exponentially across the SUNY System, as SUNY Esports participation has risen to include almost 2,200 students across 50 participating SUNY campuses this spring. According to Interim Chancellor Deborah F. Stanley, “the SUNY Esports League maintains popularity due to how accessible esports and gaming are for collegiate players at all athletic abilities. As the fastest growing entertainment industry in the world, esports provide a sense of community and keep students engaged outside the confines of the physical classroom.” According to a post-Fall 2021 survey conducted by the SUNY Esports League, students rated SUNY Esports 4.5/5.0 stars for enjoyment, as 81% of athletes indicated that they would recommend esports to a friend.
The global esports market recently surpassed the $1 billion mark, representing an almost 50% increase over the previous year. According to Newzoo, a network for game market insights and analytics, the esports industry’s global market revenue is predicted to reach $1.62 billion in 2024. In addition, the worldwide esports audience size is expected to grow to over 577 million viewers by 2024, representing a significant increase from 474 million viewers in 2021. SUNY has partnered with LeagueSpot, an esports tournament engine offering accessible information regarding competition rankings and result, of which recorded 1,273 scheduled matches during the Fall 2021 season. Extreme Networks represents the SUNY Esports League’s senior-most partner and was previously named the Official Networking Provider of SUNY-wide esports programs and arenas.
One of its newest bachelor program offerings, SUNY Canton recently created a B.B.A. major in Esports Management, of which can be taken on-campus or online and combines parts of its popular Game Design and Development program with fundamental skills from the School of Business and Liberal Arts’ management majors. Students in the Esports Management program take courses in economics, accounting, communications, marketing, finance, media studies, business law, game design, and Esports event management, completing the program with an internship or capstone project during their final semester of study. According to Business Lecturer Nicholas Kocher, “the Esports Management program is ideal for SUNY Canton because it meshes well with already existing programs at the college. It fits with SUNY Canton’s technology mission, and it fits with SUNY Canton’s commitment to career preparation. As an interdisciplinary major, it combines components of the college’s Game Design and Development program with the strengths of its many business and management programs to provide a degree that is only available at a handful of universities in the U.S.” Graduates of SUNY Canton’s Esports Management program will be highly sought after for careers in public relations, events management, sales, and facilities management, just to name a few. Furthermore, Esports will continue to provide marketable and employable skills to SUNY students and graduates for the foreseeable future.
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