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DCE Magazine

An Overview of Esports for Passionate Self Starters

Summer 2018

Imagine discovering a career path that blends your passion for education, technology, and entrepreneurship with competitive multiplayer video games and the culture surrounding them.

For Overview of Esports course instructor Chad Smeltz, that path became reality the day he was asked to coach a professional League of Legends team based in Los Angeles.

This chance opportunity resulted from his diligent contributions to the gaming community and a touch of good luck. Chad's genial personality and knack for helping others also made him a great candidate for a coaching role.

“I learned that when talking to people, the passion for what you do can really show and when you're passionate about teaching or explaining a concept, your audience will generally be more prone to listen. It's that sort of thing which has helped me get to where I am now.”

Esports most commonly takes the form of competitive online video gaming between professional players from around the world. Remarkably, what may sound like a niche industry has scaled so quickly over the last 5 years that giants like Amazon, Comcast, and team owners from the NFL, NBA, and NHL are committing significant resources to growing and capitalizing on unique business opportunities in the space.

According to Newzoo's 2018 Global Esports Market Report, global revenues will reach $906 million in 2018, representing year-over-year growth of 38.2%. And by 2021, total esports revenues are expected to grow to $1.66 billion.

To the unaccustomed, these amounts seem extraordinary but insiders like Smeltz, who is also Esports Program Director at Harrisburg University, agree that the market has room to mature into the multi-billion-dollar business many envision.

“From a collegiate standpoint you're going to see a ton of very serious programs that no longer treat their teams as startup organizations. On the professional level I think you will probably see two or three new major titles move to a franchising model like what League of Legends and the Overwatch League have done.”

This opportunity for growth will create intense demand for professionals with the right experience and skills. Chad noted that, “The way it works in the professional scene is there's already a large number of underqualified people since so few have had time to gain experience.” For many organizations, finding the right people may be their biggest challenge to launching a successful product, team, or service in this market.

From History Teacher to Professional Coach

Chad's journey towards an esports career was multifaceted and unpredictable. While enrolled at Penn State, he never formed a complete plan for what life after graduation would look like but he did develop a passion for world history and working with people. These interests inspired him to study secondary education where he student taught for sophomores and seniors in high school.

After college, Smeltz developed a following of viewers on his Twitch streaming channel who were entertained by commentary he provided throughout gameplay. Chad admits, “I would basically tell historical facts inside of the game for fun.” It was this unique delivery style, and regularly discussed interest in coaching that eventually landed him a professional offer.

“Just like history, esports is a vehicle for me to teach people, and help them learn. My life purpose is to give back to different communities and help them grow, whether that is in esports, management, or anything else I can contribute to.”

Taking Initiative

The Division of Continuing Education's commitment to quality instruction and program development ensures that learners will understand the various avenues available in this nascent field.

“More and more people are seeing they can apply their existing professions to esports,” said Smeltz. “So it's not surprising that I have students with backgrounds in finance, marketing, data analytics, and software development.”

The UCI program fills a knowledge gap so professionals at any stage of their career can learn from the experiences of people already entrenched in the industry. Organizations only consider hiring qualified people who can demonstrate what value their training and skills offer.

“Take the initiative to prove that what you're skilled at is needed in esports,” Chad said. “By providing an example of your work, or why what you're doing is good, you will help the organization understand how your goals could be integrated into their mission.”

Collaborative Learning

All of the esports courses will help learners develop their personal narrative and a clearer understanding of where they can succeed in the field. By integrating synchronous online chat sessions, the course is also a space for students to collaborate and learn from one another.

“In these discussions I discovered a lot about my students’ learning objectives and what they hoped to take away from the instruction,” Smeltz offered. “This learning experience has helped me build and improve upon the course for future sessions.”

Ultimately, esports businesses still have a number of challenges to overcome on their path to profitability. Professionals inspired by this opportunity will be successful if they share some of the same passion that Mr. Smeltz has demonstrated throughout his career.

“The shape of the industry is just forming and will continue to do so over the next 10 years,” Chad said. “This education provides students a chance to bridge into the field and be a part of this exciting community in a unique way.”

Learn more at ce.uci.edu/esports