William & Mary has an Esports Team and Esports Summer Camps
In the Fall 2019 the idea emerged for an Esports Program at William & Mary, the second-oldest university in the United States. Three years (and one pandemic) later the Program boasts 90 varsity players and staff from many different departments, with diverse backgrounds and interests, much in part to the Program Director Dr. Michele King. The Esports Club, a recognized student organization that works closely with the official Esports Program, thrives with over 500 students who love to game. W&M’s Esports Program competes against Division-1 schools in national championships with titles you (or your teens) might recognize: recognize: Apex Legends, Chess, FIFA, League of Legends, Smash,
Overwatch, VALORANT, Splatoon, and Rocket League. Their Esports Program facilitates game play, strategy, and team work in its players. And, because of the mentor program, it incorporates both physical and mental heath programs for its Varsity Team members. Team members also have ETARC (Esports Training & Research Center) facility access, coaching from esports coaches, and opportunities to engage in developmental events. Players can gain national recognition and, like other college athletes, the team players have sponsorship opportunities.
So how do the skills learned playing video games and being part of a collegiate esports team, translate into real world applications? One example might be former W&M student Hannah Smith (’21). She majored in Business Administration (Marketing) with a concentration in Business Analytics. “Ms. Smith was a Varsity Team member and W&M’s first-ever FIFA captain in the Esports Program,” Dr. King told us when we visited the Esports Program and its new summer camps. “While at W&M, Ms. Smith had several internships, including one with Epic Games. She is now Employee Engagement Coordinator for Epic Games (a global company based in North Carolina, known for Fortnite among other games).”
The industry itself is exploding and is on track to have a market size of 5.74 billion in the next 7 years, with the fastest growth market being the United States. In response, American universities are creating degrees focused around the business of esports. This is why last summer the program grew again at W&M.
Dr. King and her Esports Program, held their first on-campus summer camp for middle and high school students in July of 2022. W&M STEM & SCRIM™ Esports Summer Camp was part of USSports Nike Camps. Local area students and students from across the country attended W&M Esports one week intensive gaming camps. The NAECAD (National Association of Esports Coaches and Directors) took quick notice, and named Dr. Michele King (Director, Academic & Applied Esports Program) the National Collegiate Esports Director of the Year. W&M is planning on holding these Esports Summer Camps again in the Summer of 2023. Parents raved about the camp and asked, “what’s next?” Dr. King listened and is programming an Esports Casting track to this summer’s W&M STEM & SCRIM™ weeks where campers will receive deliverables of their work for their portfolios.
So what is esports? What is an esports camp? Why would you consider an esports team as a college student or an esports camp as a student or parent? Is it just for people who want to be professional gamers?
Let’s start with what is esports? Esports is a fast growing sports industry worldwide. The top three gaming centers are South Korea, China and North America. Esports are is organized competitive video gaming events that are and events are streamed as well as attended by live audiences. Top gamers enjoy 7 figure incomes and corporate sponsorships. Esports has spawned industries that grow in support of these events. Esports tournament players, on all levels including summer camp, college and professional levels, use critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity. Esports is now an academic and applied initiative in universities across the country. Yes, degrees in Esports Management are being offered. William & Mary offers BUAD492 / INTR 390: Esports Ecosystem in addition to having a collegiate team. And while people can have careers as competitive gamers the industry itself has stretched into careers in a wide range of fields including entertainment, legal, financial, information technology, business, and sales and marketing. See the sprawling fields in the image below (visit here for image source if you cannot see the image clearly).
Esports gaming fuels countless industries. (Image link)
So colleges are interested, students are interested, even the Olympic Committee is interested. How does this trickle down to teens? The W&M STEM & SCRIM™ Esports Summer Camps are growing, as are the opportunities to continue playing on teams at W&M and other colleges across the country while kids are pursuing their college degrees.
During the The W&M STEM & SCRIM™ Esports Summer Camp teens will game and team build. They will also participate in lectures and events with topics such as Wellness, Esports Casting, the Business of Esports, Presentation and Teamwork and Computer Graphics and Animation. Here is the curriculum for past year for 2021 William & Mary STEM & SCRIM Esports Summer Camp:
By the end of the week, the campers become a tight knit group who can continue their in-person relationships online, as they can continue to game together after they return home – where ever that may be across the country or the world. The Camp finishes with an awards ceremony where each camper receives their Certificate of Completion along with a funny story or interesting fact about the student presented by a Camp Counselor (a W&M Esport Program Member). We attended and enjoyed the comradery and hilarity, even though we did not have a camper in attendance. The spirit of the camp was infectious and there was no doubt these 12 – 18 year old campers had experienced a week that would stay with them for a lifetime.
Images are from The W&M STEM & SCRIM™ Esports Summer Camp 2021
Listen to Dr. Michele King herself as she dives into the importance of esports and how it is influencing our culture! Game on!