By Joshua Wilkerson
Following a donation of $4 million from Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, The University of Michigan will be adding a minor in Esports. This marks a significant step signifying the continuing growth of Esports worldwide. The minor is currently set to be implemented beginning in the 2022 academic year. This is planned to be a multidisciplinary study and over half a dozen courses have been slated to be included in the course of study already. These courses will cover subjects such as online communities, user experience or UX, data analytics, sport economics, and much more. The minor is designed for the study of esports and to prepare for careers in esports as a whole rather than just as a player.
Regarding the donation and inclusion of Esports as a field of study, Dean Thomas Finholt of the universities School of Information had this to say,
“This generous gift by Bobby Kotick gives us an opportunity to contribute to an understanding of video gaming broadly and esports more specifically as a tremendously important cultural and economic phenomenon… The time is right; this is the right place to do it. I think it’s a natural fit at the University of Michigan, given our interest as an institution, as a student body and as alumni, in games.”
The University of Michigan’s research and courses in the School of Information are well set up for instruction in this minor, including research in Data science, information economics and extended reality.
The minor will begin with a large-enrollment course the university is calling a “Blockbuster” introductory course. The introductory course is scheduled to be offered annually and will give students opportunities to engage with multiple Esport platforms, as well as team and industry experts. The course is set to cover a wide variety of subjects in Esports such as differences between Esports and traditional sports in regards economics and distribution.
On the subject of his donation and the Esports minor, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said, “Esports is poised for explosive growth, and I am thrilled to join the University of Michigan to develop a program that will cultivate the talent to meet the needs of this complex and evolving industry. Unlike traditional sports, esports is truly a participant sport that anyone can play and enjoy. Most of the people watching are also playing—this leads to greater enthusiasm, engagement and truly unlimited potential. University of Michigan combines world-class instruction, research and athletics, making them the perfect partner for a multidisciplinary collegiate program that will help shape the future of esports.”
With Large universities like the University of Michigan jumping aboard the Esports train in this fashion it is likely that the success of the minor, and others that follow suit, will determine how far this will spread. The future where Esports becomes its own discipline in universities across the country may not be too far away.