Miami holds esports camp to showcase possible careers in a booming field

The growing popularity of "esports" video gaming and its industry has Miami University offering a summer camp for teen gamers. The camp this week is an extension of Miami's leadership position in recent years as one of the first schools in the nation to offer a graduate degree in esports management. (Provided Photo\Journal-News)
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The growing popularity of "esports" video gaming and its industry has Miami University offering a summer camp for teen gamers. The camp this week is an extension of Miami's leadership position in recent years as one of the first schools in the nation to offer a graduate degree in esports management. (Provided Photo\Journal-News)

University event more than fun and games, as they learn computer coding, strategy and more.

The growth of computer esports is moving at the speed of digital and this week dozens of area teens are learning about the booming industry at Miami University’s main campus as part of the school’s annual gamers’ camp.

The unusual summer camp offering continues to grow in popularity as does the school’s varsity “esports” master’s program, which graduate students can also go on to earn a degree in esports management.

The week-long camp is more than fun and games, said Miami officials, but also has teens learning computer coding and strategy for an internationally growing industry.

“This is the third time we’ve offered a youth camp for esports,” said Phill Alexander, an assistant professor of game design and co-director of the varsity esports team at Miami University.

“We developed the camp as a way to invite the community and interested young people to learn more about esports and to see what we do here at Miami. We felt this year’s camp was important because we’re coming out of COVID-19 and so many people have been learning from home,” said Alexander.

Miami officials note the university was the first Division I school in the country with a varsity esports team and the first to offer an academic program.

Video gaming experts predict “esports will grow faster than any other sport in the coming years, and Miami University is preparing students for this exciting future by leveraging our top-ranked game program and team with our highly successful sport management program to offer one of the first Master’s in Esports Management offered,” said school officials.

Earlier this month, Miami offered a similar series of programs for area teachers and parents.

“We were able to assist several high school teachers and administrators, and a few parents, with better understanding the esports space and thinking about how to develop programming at their home schools. We had a fantastic slate of guest speakers as well. It was great to get a peek into how things are developing at high schools in the state, too,” said Alexander.

Participants came from Middletown High School, National Trail, Eaton and Franklin Schools as well as others in the Southern Ohio area.

A number of local school systems including Middletown and Lakota have in recent years begun to offer variations of gaming development classes and cyber academies to introduce teens to cyber security careers and other advanced computer software development courses.

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According to Miami’s website on its esports management program: “Esports jobs are fast-growing, with everyone from game developers to mega corporations and higher education hiring various esports occupations. Esports estimated revenue is expected to grow from $950 million in 2020 to $1.6 billion in 2023.”

Esports industry experts report the number of available esports jobs grew by 87% between 2018 and 2019.