While esports talent is slowly becoming a viable goal in terms of possible professions in the United States, what about the executive, administration or creative side of the business?
Louisiana State University will hold a two-day symposium and masterclass on February 13-14 in partnership with the NBA 2K League at its Eunice, Louisiana, campus, featuring talks from Tricia Sugita, CEO of FlyQuest; Keisha Howard, founder of Sugar Gamers; two-year NBA 2K League veteran Chris “KontruL” Cantrell; and Danny Martin, CEO of Geekletes. Day one will include a free, open-admission symposium, while day two will feature a masterclass for LSUE students only.
The curriculum was developed by Marcus Williams, CEO of Williams Communications, a marketing consulting group, in collaboration with the league.
While day one will be more of an introduction to the business of esports and the NBA 2K League, the format for the LSUE student-only masterclass on day two will be as follows:
• Students will be split into teams where they will be given a budget to use for an esports event on campus of their creation.
• Each group will present their plan for all to see and be judged.
• The group deemed to have the best plan for their esports event on campus will win an all-expenses-paid trip to the NBA 2K League headquarters in New York City.
“I was approached by Dr. Williams to start the HBCU [Historically Black Colleges & Universities] track, and we first went to Jarvis Christian College, and that experience was unbelievable due to the fact that they brought a lot of students to come talk to us,” Martin told DIMER.
Geekletes is an esports organization which owns a studio in DeSoto, Texas, where it holds video game tournaments and houses content creation facilities. The organization has been heavily involved in the NBA 2K community since its inception.
“You know, the students didn’t seem as interested, or they just didn’t know about esports, so it was almost like they were forced to go and we were like ‘I want to be around people who have some type of interest,’ but you know it was cool because we saw how new this is to the HBCU experience so for us to be able to really have an impact we have to really be engaged and provide insight and knowledge,” he continued.
Martin said after learning about the industry, the students were more appreciative of the opportunities that could be presented to them through esports.
“They left with the thought process of, ‘Hey now I have an opportunity to go into a flourishing industry and really be the thought leader within their craft.’ At that moment Dr. Williams recognized how powerful it was, and then he said, ’Hey, Danny, I want you to be able to go to multiple HBCUs to be able to provide this experience to individuals.’ I had already done it at several colleges, and no matter what the demographics of the college were I just wanted to be able to give information to those who are interested from the collegiate level all the way down to the high school and even middle school/elementary level.”
Martin is joined by two other minority businesspeople in Howard and Sugita.
“It’s a really big pleasure, but these are also things that we knew were going to happen when we first got into this industry,” Martin said of being a black business owner able to give back to his community and how it feels to work with the others. “When I first got into esports, I was the only person that looked like me. You’re the only person that looks like you, and you’re trying to talk to people about esports that most people don’t know.
“Now when we speak, it just holds more weight. Now it’s groups of 40 and 80 people which is an awesome opportunity because I feel like if we do not as minorities understand this industry and have interest in this industry, it’s going to pass us by and then we’re going to be looked at only as talent not thought leaders.”
LSUE is looking to be more than the first college or university to have an event like this. Williams is looking to create a curriculum centered around esports that will culminate in a degree. Even though esports is a hot topic, its revenue is still small compared with North America’s major traditional sports leagues. Esports needs people who have the interest and desire to be trained for the esports workforce.