Why Becker College Created a Bachelors of Science in Esport Management: Our Gaming Ecosystem

Why Becker College Created a Bachelors of Science in Esport Management: Our Gaming Ecosystem

By Vaughn A. Calhoun, Ed.D, MPA

It’s interesting, people ask me, ‘how’d you guys come up with a bachelors of science in Esport Management, it’s a really unique idea?’

You see, at Becker College’s School of Design and Technology, where I am the chair of the business program, we believe in the concept, ‘Imagine If.’ This concept has power; it has the power to help you think beyond your perceived limits.

We didn’t come up with this concept, but we recognized how it has changed the world… and decided to borrow it. Think about. There are companies that “imagined if“ you could have 1000 songs in your pocket (Apple), rent a room to strangers (AirBnB) or have a stranger give you a ride (Uber). And by most conventional standards, they have done pretty well.

If you can remember, in the not so distant past, video games were something that people didn’t pay much attention to. It was a hobby that “wasted time” as my middle school teachers would often say.

But what is not talked about is the business of gaming. Truth be told, it is a $152 Billion machine. And out of this $152 Billion, the United States accounts for $36 billion and growing!

And though it should not be a surprise, out of this ‘hobby,’ a professional class of gamers has emerged. In fact, an entire industry around the playing of games, aka – Esports, has reached nearly one billion dollars.

  •     Publishing Fees – $116M
  •     Merchandise/Ticket Sales – $95M
  •     Sponsorship – $359M
  •     Media Rights – $160M
  •     Advertising -$173M

In fact, this past summer, 16-year-old Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf took home $3 million for winning the Fortnite Championship.

So, we said, imagine if we could create a Bachelor of Science in Esport Management. Now, we’re not talking about a program built on sand, but on rock. In other words, at Becker College, we have created an ecosystem of game; game programming, game design, game art, and game audio, which we have been recognized as #3 in the world by Princeton Review. In fact, these programs are supported by complementary academic programs such as Applied Computer Science, Emerging Media & Content Creation, and Business Management and Marketing; as well as the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute – a statewide center that fosters cooperation between the digital games industry, academia, and the public sector; and our very own varsity esports team who compete in League of Legends as well as other titles. In fact, we were the first college in Massachusetts to offer scholarships in gaming for players!

No disrespect to other institutions, as there are very good programs out there, but no college has an ecosystem quite like ours; a full service, one-stop-shop for all things game.

But before our first class entered this past August, we had one small task, create a curriculum that has never been created! You see, many colleges that create academic programs usually have something to model themselves after because other colleges offer it or something similar in nature. Not esports, though we hope to be the model other colleges now follow.

So, after our own internal analysis, we made a decision to go for it. Our first stop was to reach out to professionals in the esports world about our idea. And what we heard was, ‘hell yeah.’ Many talked about how there is a gap in talent for Esport management professionals. Right now, there is a trend where you have former gamers who transition into management without management experience and the learning curve is steep and at times an unrealistic ask. Some put it this way, think about an NBA player who retires and transitions into the front office. In a few cases, it might work out; but by and large, they don’t have the skillset to understand the complexities of nuances of running a team.

More specifically, they said we need people who not only have an affinity for Esports but those who have a certain skill set and knowledge base; management, marketing, sales, content creation, social media, graphic design, and video editing, etc… So, what we realized early on in the process is that our curriculum must build competencies which will allow our students multiple entry points into the vast ecosystem of Esport careers; be it with a game publisher (Blizzard), streaming company (Twitch), league (ESL), team or sponsor.

We also realized that we needed to layer our curriculum with Esport practitioners to teach our courses. This will allow our students with real-time information about the industry, it helps students build authentic and important relationships to help launch their careers, and it gives a unique platform for these Esport HEAVY HITTERS to share their passion and build the next generation of Esport professionals in their image. And by virtue of location, Massachusetts represents the fourth largest video game industry clusters in the U.S. which afford us close proximity to these Esport Heavy Hitters. And luckily for us, many are on our Esport advisory board and a few even teach. For example,

Christina Alejandre – Former General Manager, ELEAGUE | VP, Esports @ Turner Sports

William Collis – Co-Founder at Gamer Sensei and Owner at Genji Esports

Marco Mereu – Founder & CEO, Framerate. Framerate is a digital media company delivering original esports entertainment content to millions of fans around the world

Kevin Mitchell – Senior executive, eSports, VR & Immersive Entertainment @ National Amusements

We believe we have stumbled upon, not a diamond in the rough, but a diamond that shines so bright it’s almost blinding to anyone who looks at it. Luckily for us, we were able to use our other senses to realize something no one else, then, in higher education could, the immense value of Esports and offering a Bachelor of Science of Esport Management to complement.

And if you’re a college looking to start your own Bachelors of Science in Esport Management, please feel free to reach out. The more the merrier!

About Dr. Vaughn A. Calhoun

Vaughn Calhoun, Ed.D, is a FUTURE COLLEGE PRESIDENT. Currently, he is the Director of Business Programs and Founding Director of the first Bachelors of Science in Esports Management in the country at Becker College.

Dr. Calhoun is a graduate of Rutgers University where he earned his bachelors degree while also participating as a full scholarship Division I student-athlete on the football team. Likewise, he earned his Master’s of Public Policy and Administration from California State University Long Beach and his Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) from Northeastern University.

Dr. Calhoun is avid on social media blogging and musing about innovation, entrepreneurship, success, and sports.