Capitalise on the eSports phenomenon with university knowledge and skills

Associate Professor Daryl Adair, UTS School of Business,  photo by Toby Burrows.
Associate Professor Daryl Adair, UTS School of Business, photo by Toby Burrows.

With few universities globally offering targeted courses to capitalise on the rising eSports phenomenon, forward-thinking students and academics are applying their transdisciplinary knowledge, research and skills to this exciting new industry, according to a senior academic from the University of Technology Sydney.

‘Computerised gaming has evolved quickly - sophisticated digital technology and fast internet allows the production of gamified entertainment with an extraordinary level of sophistication,” said Associate Professor Daryl Adair, Associate Professor of Sport Management, UTS School of Business.

With the eSports economy predicted to grow to RMB 6.0 billion (US$905.6 million) in the next 12 months , industry revenue is likely to grow to RMB 1.1 billion (US$174 million) in advertising, RMB 2.2billion (US$359 million) in sponsorship, and a further RMB1.0 billion (US$161 million) for media rights and content licenses. Consumer spending on tickets and merchandise will be worth RMB 609 million (US$96 million).

“The phenomenal growth is underpinned by a substantial consumer base: in 2017, the global audience for eSports – as measured by online metrics – was 385 million unique viewers. The bigger tournaments attract significant crowds, for example, the 2017 League of Legends World Championship, staged at Beijing’s National Stadium, was filled with eSports fans,” said Associate Professor Adair.

Connie Ko is a student from UTS who is studying a Master of Sports Management, and participates in eSports training after-hours. She studies by day and trained at night to become part of a team representing Australia at the World Electronic Sports Games Asia-Pacific Qualifier in Qingdao, China.

With an undergraduate degree in sports science, Connie is particularly interested in the business side of sports, “I could really see the parallels between sports management and eSports,” said Connie.

Studying subjects such as Sport Business, led by Associate Professor Adair, Connie has been able to bring her eSports expertise to her assessments and class discussions. “A lot of traditional sporting organisations are buying into eSports,” Connie says. “It’s a business opportunity that’s only going to grow.”

There are now university eSports Leagues, supported by major companies in Sydney, which aim to help top players (who are also university students) secure a graduate role in technology with some of Australia’s leading employers.

While becoming an eSports global champion may be an ambition beyond most, Associate Professor Adair says there steps students can take to prepare for opportunities in the eSport industry.

“Studying UTS Foundation Studies or a Diploma of Business at UTS Insearch can be a great start on the path to versatile qualifications, such as a Bachelor of Management majoring in Sport Business,” said Associate Professor Adair.

“Studying at a top young university of technology, with a leading school of business, with links to the eSport industry is a great way to develop transdisciplinary knowledge to prepare for this evolving sector. Students should be aiming to build wide skillsets from the sports, events and entertainment industries, and develop critical thinking, innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship.

"Students will also need skills in marketing, advertising and sponsorship, both in traditional sport and emerging digital versions," he said.