Can playing video games lead to careers in creative media, vendor management, and academic scholarship? Of course! Why else would we begin an article like that?
This isn’t just a soapbox. It is a fact. Participating in esports as a student builds transferable skills that can be used across industries.
And yes, the esports industry is expanding just as fast as the media says it is. Growing at a pace of over $1 billion in revenue this past year to be specific. Where there is growth, there is the opportunity for new careers. The best part about video games and esports? They sit at the intersection of art, businesses, and technology meaning the experiences they provide reach far beyond playing games competitively.
Creative Services, Business Operations, and Education are just three fields that become viable career paths for esports players and students. Playing is more than just a high score - it is the foundation to landing a new job. Let’s look closer into the skills and roles that esports participation cultivates for young adults.
It is hard to look at a video game and not see the artistic nature of its production. From obvious elements such as bold character and world design to seamless user-interface design menu screens and head-up displays (HUDs).
Esports take the artistic foundations of video games and expands them to new realms of media strategy, design, and creative direction.
Professional esports teams are packaged with logos, color palettes, uniquely designed flyers, collateral, promotional material, video content, ads, and storytelling. Like any other professional sport, the esports industry requires professionals capable of telling the teams’ stories and keeping audiences engaged. The industry is also reliant on video streaming and digital asset creation to create a polished experience for viewers.
Being on an esports team or club in school is like being a young intern at the NBA. Not every employee at the NBA is shooting three-pointers; not every student on an esports team is holding a controller.
Students directly create and execute their team’s brand and identity. For example, students interested in video production can join an esports team or club and create promotional videos, highlight reels, or develop their storyboarding. In other traditional sports, media and promotions of events are often left to the school administrators or outside, vendor cable companies who broadcast games. With esports, students have the agency to design video content schedules and set up the infrastructure for club meet-ups, video sharing, and video hangouts with other teams and schools.
Students drive content and ultimately gain more experiences and skills that can be transferred to other industries outside of gaming. For example, Arizona State University’s student-run Esports Association boasts content designed and managed by students including photography, web updates, and community events, calendars, and Discords. This type of creative production and management is used in all industries that interface with users online (and, as you can imagine, there are a lot of businesses that need talented professionals to create online content nowadays.)
Speaking of community events, calendars, and Discords… business operations and communications today rely heavily on individuals who understand consumers’ relationship with a brand across channels and platforms. Arguably, there is no better industry to learn consumer relationships with than esports.
Again, like other sports, esports is driven by fan participation. Understanding fans’ likes and dislikes improve the profitability of professional leagues and teams. Fan engagement also impacts the number of sponsors and how much those sponsors are willing to offer to support the games and, concurrently, use the esports platform as a promotional tool.
Sponsor relationships, vendor management, community management, and analyst roles help keep the esports ship running. These are all roles found in businesses across industries, too, not just technology and media.
As an esports student-athlete or team/club member, students have the unrivaled opportunity of learning sponsor relations and community management at an early age. In collaboration with the team and administrators, students can determine the right sponsors for their vision and actually see the impact of their business strategy.
Unlike some other sports, esports, especially in these early years, will require students to speak publicly and eloquently about their passions. A lifelong soft skill, being able to effectively communicate with others (peers, teachers, fellow schools) about an up-and-coming industry (esports) is a vital foundational experience in a world likely to face pivots and disruptions for years to come.
Speaking about esports is important. But, not just for the presentation skills practice. As a blossoming industry so complex and global in nature, there is a need for scholarship on esports. We want to know how esports impacts our lives in a multitude of disciplines.
From researching how esports impacts age groups/countries comparatively or investigating what triggers grew esports to its current zenith, academic research into esports is a field that continues to burst with opportunity.
Esports are on the precipice of reshaping the middle and high school sports landscapes. Students interested in being educators should understand now how technology and games will impact the future of schools. Esports is growing rapidly, but it needs to grow consistently, too. The more educated we are about the industry, the longer its positive career skills and other benefits can impact young students.
We often ask students what they want to be when they grow up, but we don’t give them enough opportunities to explore what they could be. Esports is a cornucopia of skills development and new experiences for students passionate about self-directing their career path(s). Because esports puts students in the driver’s seat, we see more agency about their abilities, likes, and dislikes. The more we understand esports skills viability across industries, the more we create game-driven sandboxes for students to become themselves.
For more information on bringing esports programs to your school, visit our schools page.
With a degree in English from the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa (UHM), Tzana Saldania is passionate about science and communication. She is currently the Communications Coordinator for the Center for Advancing Education at Mid-Pacific Institute and has worked as a Research Assistant at the University of Hawaii’s Perception and Attention Psychology Laboratory, aiding in research related to Statistical Learning in video game players.