[caption id="attachment_232789" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Futures First Gaming will use its three-month program as a springboard to transfer credits to a Wilmington University certificate. | PHOTO COURTESY OF WILMINGTON UNIVERSITY[/caption]
WILMINGTON — Wilmington University is offering a new esports certificate that will unlock marketable skills in programming, public relations, data analysis and more. Starting this fall, Wilmington University will offer a 18-credit online certificate in esports in partnership with Futures First Gaming (FFG). The coursework builds off the established curriculum, and the university is creating esports events and production classes right now. A second course, esports and data, will be launched in the spring.FFG already offers a three-month workforce development program in programming, game design, marketing, video editing and event production. This new partnership means that students who complete the STEM-accredited program with FFG can transfer six credits to the esports certificate.WilmU Liberal Arts Director Matthew Wilson said the new certificate represents building off existing programs and skills established at the university. Right now, there are six courses that qualify for the certificate, running the gamut from marketing to programming to management. “What this is is skill building — with the variety WilmU can offer, students can take the certificate and embed it in an associate degree,” Wilson said. “In the student’s journey, it gives them the option to really explore what they’re interested in through esports. And even if esports is just a hobby, it’s not boxing them into one career down the line.”Esports is a form of competition focused on video games, focused primarily on rankings and prize money, and has been growing in interest for a decade and blossomed after the COVID-19 pandemic. When sports events kept fans out of the stands, people turned to online gatherings via video games.In 2021, esports generated $243 million in revenue in the United States, according to data company Statista. The 2021 League of Legends World Championship Final in Iceland was watched by 74 million concurrent viewers, topping the Super Bowl.FFG, founded in 2020 by Stephen Sye, Malcom Coley and Newdy Felton, was ahead of the curve. Sye said that 3.2 billion people — about a third of America’s population — in the world identify as gamers, and it’s creating a market.“When you look around, you’re seeing kids that can play a game, can make a Tik Tok video and they have a personality. They just don’t know how to put it all together,” Sye said. The example he likes to use is Kyle Giersdorf, who won the 2018 Fornite World Cup at 16 years old. Overnight, he became a brand. He had a media tour, a product line and he became a character in the game. But what that also means is he needed the infrastructure to support him: lawyers, accountants, a public relations team, maybe even tutors and eye doctors.“There's all these types of professions as well as game programmers, designers, content creators, media specialists, broadcasters and event planners that aren’t just in the gaming industry, but making that crossover,” Sye added. “If Delaware is investing in technology in Chem Tech and Fintech, why can’t we frame that technology through esports?”Any of the projects created through the FFG program can later be enhanced through the course of pursuing the WilmU certificate. But with the foundation of the certificate, students can build those courses into a degree, be it in information technology, business strategy or more. WilmU has roughly 15 bachelor degree programs that can tie into the gaming field.