Leveling Up: Temple engages Esports industry through certificate program and gaming club

The certificate program is offered within the School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management and gives students the opportunity to engage in the industry.

Temple is offering a new Esports Certificate. | EAMON HOYE / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Thanks to streaming platform personalities, Esports have grown exponentially within the past decade, and betting sites and cult-like followings for games like Valorant, Apex Legends and League of Legends have helped the industry become even more explosive. 

“There’s more viewers in Esports than there is in the MLB, NHL and NBA,” said Daniel Pulse, a professor and CEO of Carter Pulse management agency, which works to connect professional gamers with brands and teams. “The only league that has more viewership in Esports right now is the NFL, and to my knowledge, I think Esports is projected to surpass the NFL, by the end of this year or next year.”

By the end of 2023, the worldwide Esports market is expected to reach $3.8 billion in revenue, the largest market segment being Esports betting, with a market volume of $2.1 billion, according to Statista. The projected market volume by 2027 is $5.4 billion. 

As the Esports industry continues to evolve, Temple debuted an Esports certificate program within the School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management this semester. The program is designed to educate students about the business and managerial aspects of the industry.

The certificate program consists of five courses covering industry trends, legal challenges, topics in sport and recreation management, social media management and fan engagement and revenue production.

The program currently has about 350 active students from majors across the Fox School of Business and STHM, said Daniel Funk the associate dean of STHM.

“It really provides opportunities for our students to learn about the business of Esports, to academic courses and student internships,” Funk said. “It also helps with student recruitment and retention at Temple, helps establish partnerships and creates opportunities for cutting-edge research.”

Some Temple students have already been interested in the industry for quite some time. In 2016, a group of students started Temple Esports, a club to accommodate the growing Esports market and increase on-campus opportunities for involvement in the field. The group gained access to a professional-grade training location at Broad Street near Callowhill in March 2023 with the help of a Nerd Street, a gaming company.  

The venue is able to accommodate the club’s nearly 83 active players by offering access to a state-of-the-art venue at a reduced cost and the ability to host events.

“It’s just becoming bigger and people are actually making money playing video games and tournaments,” said Christian Talotti, a sophomore film and media major and member of Temple Esports. “Having the certification can open up so much more into the business side and like even the entertainment side of Esports. I think especially for us people who are part of Esports, as a club, this gives us a chance to kind of like if we want to take the next steps instead of just being in a club.”

Temple wanted to offer more than an on-campus club as many universities, like University of California Irvine and Berkley, boast top Esports programs, and the industry is growing at a rapid rate. Students in the program gain a business perspective of the industry, learning about topics like business analytics and legal technicalities.

“​​We get to learn what’s the biggest way people make money in this because today so many people are making money off Esports teams through managing them,” Talotti said. “And I’m not surprised the program is like this because you need to know more behind the scenes than to play it.”

All courses are taught online to accommodate professors who actively work in the Esports world and the program allows students to work hand-in-hand with these professors.

Pulse’s company, Carter Pulse, works with companies, like TikTok, to boost Esports viewership and to connect professional gamers to brand deals. He teaches an Esports legal and ethical challenges class, which explores topics like gambling, sexual discrimination, gaming addiction, intellectual property laws and cheating. Pulse often pulls scenarios from his professional career into his classes for his students to learn from and discuss. 

Esports is at the intersection of many fields, and after graduation, students have the opportunity to oversee the business side of teams, events and tournaments. The competitive side of the industry has multiple positions available to students, like coaching and managing, Funk said.

“You can be an Esports commentator and analyst, a journalist or broadcaster,” Funk added. “There’s a lot in the content creation area, game design and development, so there’s a lot of intersections of many types of careers.”

As the Esports industry rapidly grows, STHM is hoping to give students the necessary exposure to topics like marketing, finance and ethics through the scope of Esports as most courses are taught by industry experts.

“In this industry, it’s not far-fetched to be very successful, and start making pretty decent money early on in your career,” Pulse said. “You could be setting yourself up for a very long career and a successful long career.”

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