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N3rd Street Gamers is helping academia embrace the booming esports market

SOURCE: Tobias Schwarz / AFP
Supporters attend the match between team Avangar from Kazachstan and team Renegades from Australia at the Starladder Counter-Strike-Major event in Berlin on September 7, 2019.

Just a decade ago esports wouldn’t have been on the radar for many people, seen more as the realm for computer obsessed teens than a serious sport. But that attitude has shifted dramatically and what was once the reserve of the “nerd” has become one of the fastest-growing spectator sports in the world.

According to NJ Games, the total number of esports viewers has more than tripled from 124 million in 2012 to 335 million in 2017. The number is expected to exceed 550 million by 2021, driven not only by gamers but the 40 percent of spectators who have never actually played the video games they’re watching.

Entire arenas are bring built and adjusted to accommodate the growing crowds. And with growing crowds comes growing revenue. Incorporating earnings by sponsorships, advertising, merchandising, esports betting, etc., NJ Games found revenues almost quadrupled from US$130 million in 2012 to US$468 million in 2017.

esports
Clutch Gaming players battle in the 3rd-4th place match with Team Counter Logic Gaming during the 2019 LCS Summer Finals at Little Caesars Arena on August 24, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. Source: Dave Reginek/Getty Images/AFP

It’s clear to see that esports is big business and certainly isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

It makes sense then that universities are paying attention and adjusting to this emerging sector. One prime example is Rowan University that recently teamed up with N3rd Street Gamers, a US network of esports facilities and events.

The partnership is working to develop into one of the largest collegiate esports gaming and academic programme in the region.

According to a statement from the university, N3rd Street Gamers will invest over US$1 million in the construction and development of a 7,500 sq foot gaming facility that will house other facilities, such as a broadcasting studio for the use of Rowan students.

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“Esports has evolved well beyond playing games,” said Rowan President Ali A. Houshmand.

“The most important aspect for Rowan is its academic component. It will offer our students hands-on training – via internships – and knowledge in a variety of fields that will prepare them to become leaders in technology, engineering, business, computer programming and even broadcasting as it applies to this emerging industry.”

The pair will work closely in developing the curricula for the new courses and work towards building club and varsity-level teams for competition.

esports
Team OG holds the winner’s trophy as the team wins the Dota 2 eSports Best of 5 final match during the International Dota 2 Championships in Shanghai on August 25, 2019. Source: STR / AFP / China OUT

To give their students a boost, the university is investing US$230,000 is gaining memberships to N3rd Street Gamers network which allows students to access their gaming equipment free of charge.

“Gaming is no longer just a form of entertainment. There are legitimate careers to pursue within this industry, but the paths aren’t always clear,” said N3rd Street Gamers CEO John Fazio.

“This premier esports facility will give Rowan University students and the surrounding community the opportunity to learn both technical and professional skills that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.”