Rowan’s New Esports Program Continues to Level Up

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Rowan's first esports event was hosted in 2019. Rowan is continuing to grow their esports program this year. - File Photo / Miguel Martinez

Rowan University is taking a huge step into the future by bringing esports to the curriculum through the new Esports Industry & Entertainment Experience Certificate, which is now becoming a concentration in the sports communication and media (Sports CaM) major.

With the future at our doorstep, Dr. Emil Steiner, director of the Sports CAM major, video game scholar Kacey Doran and Gidd Sasser, general manager of Simplicity Esports, are all embracing the opportunity of what esports is bringing to the university.

The idea of  esports was brought up about a year and half ago when conversations were had with Nerd Street, a company that focuses on serving semi-professional and developing competitive gamers. Rowan University and Nerd Street plan on partnering together to help build a local host site, specifically for esports.

“Last I heard, a multi-million dollar facility was being built and will be finished around some time in the spring,” Steiner said. “The university has made a big commitment to esports in terms of building facilities for that and — in addition to having esports teams, having a place for events — we also decided we wanted to have an esports curriculum so that students can learn about esports.”

Esports will be a new concentration within the Sports CaM major which, at the moment, has four concentrations. The University Senate approved the esports concentration on Oct. 30. Colleges outside of the Ric Edelman College of Communication and Creative Arts (CCCA), such as the Rohrer College of Business, are also planning to get involved with esports as time moves on.

In times like these where COVID-19 prevents some classes from meeting in person, esports is currently completely online but will give the option of a hybrid class in the future.

“The certificate of undergraduate studies if offered by Rowan Global,” Steiner said. “Their idea is that they have online courses available to everyone all over the globe.”

Rowan Global focuses on making quality education convenient and affordable to students and adults, as well as to the business community. In a course that is seven weeks, Doran’s goal is to give as much information as possible, but more importantly, make it accessible to everyone.

“This is being made [available] not only to Rowan students but to lots of folks,” Doran said. “We wanted to make it as accessible as possible while covering as much information as possible in seven weeks.”

Sasser looks forward to working with the University and achieving his long term passion of working within education.

“I knew some people up there with Nerd Street, that were like, ‘Hey, this is going on at the university here would you be interested?’ They got me and Emil connected, and here we are,” Sasser said.

Simplicity Esports, for which Sasser works, is the first publicly traded esports company in North America and is known for Flamengo Esports in Brazil. 

Students can expect a hands-on experience with things such as covering game livestreams once they are comfortable with the basics that Doran wants to cover with her students.

“Before our students even get to that point, we want to make sure they have a good background on esports,” Kacey Doran said. “So we go over major points in history, we talk about the business, we talk about being an athlete… we started talking about not only the economics but also the cultural experiences.”

Esports is a brand new concentration to the Sports CaM major, and with that comes new experiences. Having an open mind is crucial to student success while walking through the door to the future.

“If you come in willing to be impressed, or to learn something new, and have an open mind, and realize this is on the level of professional soccer, football, then I think you are going to get a lot out of it,” Gidd Sasser said. “You’ll be surprised how big esports actually is, not just as a sport but as an industry in general, merchandise, corporate level, banking, investment, everything.”

Intro to Esports was offered this semester and just concluded its seven-week online class. It is offered twice a semester and will also be offered next semester along with classes like Esports Reporting, In-Game Observing and Shoutcasting.

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