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What is the future for eSports as an academic major in Chinese universities?

Thursday, 10 Aug 2017 10:32   |   By Nong Ruowen

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In China today, the booming development of eSports has generated a dramatic demand for eSports talents. As a result, some Chinese universities are featuring eSports-related majors or programs in their curriculums. However this has also triggered a wide-range controversy among public opinion in China. Previously eSports was a way of "having fun" in the past but now it has been included as a new major in some universities. So what is the future for eSports in China?

To find the answer, several journalists from Tencent Sports conducted a series of interviews with students who had been accepted into universities to study this new major, their parents, professors of this major and practitioners in the eSports industry. 

Students: The eSports-related major is "a door to a brand new world"

This summer, Liu Ben (alias), from Jiangsu Province and who graduated from a local high school has been accepted onto an eSports-related major in the Communication University of China, Nanguang College. As an eSports enthusiast since his childhood, Liu made his decision as soon as he read the news that eSports had become an undergraduate major in universities. To study such a major would mean so much as it was "a door to a brand new world" for him. As for Liu parents, their attitude towards his decision was so different to that of other parents making Liu much luckier than many other students.

Traditionally, many Chinese parents believe that children are vulnerable to the addiction of playing online games and can get distracted from their study. As a result, not many parents support their children playing online games, not to mention giving them the all clear to major in eSports. On the contrary, Liu's parents expressed a positive attitude towards his choice, making him a lucky dog among his classmates. 

However, to some parents, an eSports-related major can be a “rescuer” for their children. 

Another high-school graduate Li Xiao (alias) is a die-hard fan of online games and became addicted to it in his last year of high school. This led his parents to worry about whether he could get into any university. When they heard about the eSports-related major, they thought it could "save their kid" and allowed Li to sit the examination. Fortunately for Li, he too was accepted by the Communication University of China, Nanguang College this summer.

"Li wants to work in the eSports industry as an manager after graduating from  university," Li's mother told the journalist about Li's future plans. 

Teachers: The eSports-related major is a positive approach to changing people's negative opinions about eSports

Dai Zhiqiang is the Director of the eSport major in the Communication University of China, Nanguang College. In his opinion, eSports includes fantastic interactions of players' emotions and combats their wisdom and strategies, the key reasons why eSports is so compelling to teenagers. 

"It is a pity that people often regard eSports enthusiasts as 'chairwarmers'. It could be the biggest obstacle for the development of eSports." said Dai. The best way to solve this problem is to feature it in higher education, so as to change people's negative opinions about it.

Having established the new major in Nanguang College under the approval of the government, Dai met, Tian Yunpeng, a practitioner from a startup eSports company. Their common ambition and experience in eSports soon led them to forming a new partnership. They worked closely with other lecturers and professors In the design and development of the curriculum for this major. Alongside practical eSports courses and modules, students have to learn eSports data analysis, eSports events' organization, Psychology, Operations Research, Game Theory and  events' commentary. 

Following Nanguang College, several universities such as Sichuan University of Media and Communications and the Communication University of China (CUC), set up their own eSports majors. For them, to partner with an eSports company or club has been a common way to develop and brand the eSports major. The CUC has partnered with the  eSports company, Hero Entertainment, and its subsidiary company Hero Sports, in order to secure job positions for the first three cohorts of students.

As to the goals of these majors, most of these universities are not aiming to develop just professional eSports players, but also to develop professional staff for the whole eSports industry. 

Practitioner: Graduates of eSports-related majors can change the industry

For students, it will take 4 years to graduate from an eSports major in university. Unfortunately, no one can predict what the eSports industry will be like in 4 years time. 

Ying Shuling is the CEO of Hero Entertainment. During the interview with the Tencent Sports journalists, Ying said that "the eSports industry needs employees with multi-area knowledge and skills, but becoming this kind of professional talent takes time. On the other hand, employees have to keep learning so as to address the continuous changes taking place in this industry."

However, Ying still keeps a positive opinion about eSports-related majors and its students. "Those students graduating from the eSports majors, can have a dramatic influence on the industry and can help to make huge changes in this new industry," Ying stated, "With a deeper understanding on what the young are thinking, as well as more proficient knowledge and skills they got from their major, they can create something more compelling in the future." 

Conclusion:

The establishment of eSports majors marks a gradual acceptance of eSports by the public. However, because it is still a new budding industry without any previous examples in China we can not predict what the future holds for eSports majors in Chinese universities?

Only time will tell.

Proofread by Raymond Fitzpatrick

Tags: eSports

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