Photo By Ulises Rodriguez
By Ulises Rodriguez, Staff Reporter
By next spring, there could be as many as three eSports-related classes offered at CSUDH, which would put this school on the list of about 50 forward-thinking schools that realize the potential that eSports and the larger industry it is part of, video games, have in terms of future employment, for Toro graduates.
Dr.Mitch Avila, the dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, is in charge of selecting what classes will be offered, a process that began with a February email asking faculty members to submit proposals for possible classes. Those whose proposals made the cut have until August 15 to submit a course syllabus and curriculum to Avila.
You could say Avila is designing the nascent program; but, just like any decent game, there’s an artificial intelligence behind the scenes–except it isn’t artificial. Avila sent the first email Feb. 24 asking for proposals, to support an initiative by the President’s office for more eSports participation on campus.
That’s CSUDH President Thomas A. Parham whose last job before coming to CSUDH was vice-chancellor of student affairs at UC Irvine. That’s UC Irvine, which in 2016 became the first university in the country to offer video game scholarships. Parham was part of the initiative that created the scholarships, as well as its 3,500-square-foot gaming area.
In a 2016 interview with the Bakersfield Californian, Parham was clear that the video game scholarship idea at UCI was anything but mere fun and games.
“We hope to attract the best gamers from around the world, and our academic programs in computer gaming science, digital arts, computer science, engineering, anthropology, law, medicine, neuroscience, and behavior create a strong foundation for research and inquiry related to gaming,” Parham said in the article.
As the CSUDH eSports association continues to grow in members, there seems to be similar energy on this campus that benefited UCI in 2016. And that energy starts at the top. Just last year, Parham spoke about the future of eSports at Future Forum, the future of eSports which was at the Riot Games eSports Studio and hosted by CSUSH and Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation.
With the booming expansion of eSports worldwide, CSUDH’s proximity to Los Angeles, one of the few epicenters of the video game industry, as well as having a big booster sitting in the president’s office, there seems to be real synergy for getting some eSports-related classes up and running by spring, 2021.
But the real reason why it makes sense for CSUDH to increase its gaming profile is that it makes dollars and cents.
“One thing is its big money,” Avila said. “Just like film, television, music…Esports is going to be a major sector in the economy. So we’re talking about very large companies with 100 million dollar budgets…and [we need] to prepare our students to work effectively in that world.
“So I see the benefit, not so much in preparing eSports athletes as much as I see the benefit in helping students understand there is a sector in the economy where they can have a skill set that they can go in and work in that sector.”
A recent article by eSports insider, states that there are more than 7,000 jobs available in the eSports field and that will surely increase as demand increases.
One of Avila’s most critical tasks in fielding the first set of classes at this campus is that each offers a curriculum that extends beyond the actual playing of games.
“It depends on the learning objectives, so if the learning objectives are around managing an eSports enterprise well then there are all kinds of curriculum,” Avila said. “The curriculum might be about legal issues, there might be issues in creativity, a curriculum around basic computer science, there might be a curriculum around critical issues in esports like gender, race, all those kinds pf (topics). There is one version of the curriculum that is similar to what we would do for a sports management degree…another…is creative content producers…we’re talking about creating characters, narratives, plot lines, music .
Several students explained what they would like to see in a curriculum at CSUDH
“I think that it would be cool to see a curriculum or class that highlights the importance of storytelling because if there wasn’t a story in most video games I wouldn’t be too interested in playing them,” Omar Rivera, a 23-year-old art major,. said.
Some students would even like the opportunity to create their own video game even if it’s something as simple as creating a game for the App Store.
“I would say classes that put me in a real-life scenario, like creating an actual video game from scratch would be interesting to me. Especially, how there are different ways to make a digital game,” Cristian Ramirez, a 20-year-old computer science major said.