Shenandoah University Among First in the Country to Offer eSports Major
Recognizing that competitive gaming is no longer the flash in the pan many believed it to be, Shenandoah University will become one of the first educational institutions in the country, and the very first in Virginia, to offer an eSports major to its students. According to the official press release:
Shenandoah will be one of the first universities in the country and the first in Virginia to offer an eSports major. The major not only provides a general eSports education, but also uniquely offers not one, but three tracks that students can choose from: eSports management, eSports coaching, and eSports media and communication. Through the major, students can learn about eSports consumerism, how to run an eSports event, performance and physical training in eSports, streaming eSports, and coaching eSports teams.
This commitment to supporting not only competitive gamers, but the managers, business officials, and event coordinators involved in eSports is a clear need, and Shenandoah University’s Director of eSports Joey Gawrysiak recognizes this. Working for over a year to finalize the establishment of the eSports offerings while also helping support the university’s varsity eSports team, Dr. Gawrysiak knows how competitive the eSports industry is, and sees SU’s new offerings as a solution for career preparedness in the field: “We are working to prepare students to enter this field as highly qualified individuals with a unique bachelor’s degree that will place them ahead of other people wishing to enter the field. Shenandoah has positioned itself at the forefront of the eSports industry by offering students an environment to participate in and study eSports in a number of different ways.”
While the offering of an eSports major won’t be available until fall of 2019, Shenandoah University has already established itself as a leader in collegiate eSports competition. Since the start of the year, the SU Hornets have competed within the National Association of Collegiate eSports (NACE) against Penn State, University of Maryland, Clemson, and Arizona State. Currently, the team competes in Rocket League, Paladins, and Overwatch.
In addition to the three unique tracks and 10 core courses covered within the eSports major, Shenandoah University is also planning to be the first NACE institution to establish a varsity-level virtual reality team, competing in Echo Arena and Onward to start. The VR team will find its home at the Shenandoah Center for Immersive Learning (SCIL) in the Health & Life Sciences Building, outfitted with 360-degree video equipment as well as augmented and virtual reality tech for enhanced learning.
With eSports athletes facing a notably different career trajectory than most traditional sports, SU’s focus on supporting facets other than competition within the realm of eSports is a welcome trend. And with the industry closing in on $138 billion this year, it’s a clear necessity.