What Are Esports?

Esports are competitive games played electronically by professionals and amateurs who compete in high stakes events.

Growth of the Esports Industry

Esports are competitive games played electronically by professionals and amateurs who compete in high stakes events. The industry has grown rapidly over the last decade:

  • In 2017, Esports viewership was nearly as big as Major League Baseball and the National Hockey Leagues combined
  • Viewership of the 2018 League of Legends championship peaked at 100 million viewers, the same as the 2019 Super Bowl, and 3 times higher than the baseball World Series
  • Streaming Esports platforms Twitch and YouTube Gaming each have more subscribers than HBO, Netflix and Spotify
  • Sponsors for Esports related events include Nike, Coca-Cola, Mercedes Benz and the U.S. Army
  • Esports generated $1 billion in revenue in 2019, and is expected to reach $2 billion by 2021
  • Jobs in the field are expected to grow 35% year over year for the foreseeable future (Goldman Sachs, 2018)

This rapid growth in Esports has created job opportunities that didn't exist 10 years ago. Esports organizations now demand highly skilled workers who are able to teach, lead, coach and manage teams; design and develop multimedia; shoutcast; and analyze data in an Esports environment. Additionally, educators implementing Esports programs in both K-12 and higher education to increase student engagement, retention and achievement.

UNCW’s Esports certificate programs are designed to respond to this market need by providing you with real world experience to get into this industry.

Esports at UNCW

UNCW introduced a Seahawk Esports Club in 2019 with the goal of bringing together a community to learn, play and teach electronic sports. The club hosts competitions which are free and open to all UNCW students, faculty and staff. The club is also working to establish connections with the local/statewide Esports community including other clubs, companies and schools.

The Seahawk Esports Club was started by WCE professor Ray Pastore and students enrolled in WCE’s MIT program. Current state of Esports @ UNCW:

  • We have 6 competitive teams competing in state and national tournaments against other universities
    • Current games include League of Legends, Call of Duty, Smash, Rocket League, Overwatch, and Valorant
      • Our COD team was ranked #3 in the southeast and a tier 1 team nationally in the Fall 2021 NACE Varsity Tournament
    • We are always looking to add more games!
  • We have a graduate and undergraduate certificate in esports for those that want learn more and gain industry experience
    • The courses in the certificate are heavily tied to everything we are doing at UNCW Esports so that you can gain real experience in each course. The work in the courses provide you with real work experience that you can add to your resume!
  • We have a club and discord server with over 500 members
  • We have game nights most weekends throughout the semester
  • We have large intramural tournaments for UNCW students and the community throughout the semester
  • We host tournaments and work with various groups in the community

UNCW has established a steering committee of faculty/staff with an interest in Esports to provide strategic direction and ensure programs are introduced in the right way at UNCW. Members include representatives from Athletics, Campus Life, Campus Recreation, Campus Engagement, ITS and Student Affairs.

Students interested in the Esports club can join the club's discord here:

Who are the certificate programs for

  • Those looking for experience in Esports. In this certificate program you will create a portfolio of projects and gain experience in the field.
  • Those interested in enhancing their skillset and applying it to a broader career path around management, marketing, broadcasting, game design, or athletics.
  • The certificates are designed for those interested in a career in Esports and/or K-12 educators looking to start an Esports program in their school or district.

This certificate is designed to provide you with several things:

  • Knowledge of industry
  • Real-world experience working in the industry (i.e. internship experience)
  • A portfolio to show your experience
    • Each course uses project based learning pedagogy so students leave each course with artifacts that can be used as part of a portfolio of work to showcase practical application of skills.
    • Sample projects might include a business plan, podcast, game stream, produced video, graphic media, tournament guide, and coaching plan.
  • An array of skills required for jobs within the esports industry and will apply to nearly any other career.
    • Search current esports jobs here at Hitmarker:
    • Sample business skills: business management, negotiation, communication, shoutcasting, media design, tournament design and management, technology management, coaching, team design, production, and more
    • Sample technology skills: streaming software (ie obs), video editing, marketing tech, hardware, software (ie illustrator, tournament management software, etc.), set ups, podcasting, green screen tech, and more.
    • See the following link for sample esports related jobs

Esports Program Highlights

  • Curriculum is based on the model developed by the North American Scholastic Esports Federation to meet the needs of a growing Esports workforce. This curriculum was designed with input from industry professionals, faculty, research, a professional team, and several collegiate esports organizations.
  • Dedicated faculty bring expertise in gaming, game design and coordination of Esports events
  • The programs feature a flexible online instructor-led format, designed to accommodate working professionals and on-campus students
  • The programs provide an in-depth foundation in Esports so that learners are able to apply their knowledge to real-world events, their future careers and organizations interested in an Esports program.
  • Designed to provide you with real projects and experience