College-level esports has been rapidly expanding and growing in popularity nationwide. Colleges and universities are implementing esports as a tool to recruit and enroll students and engage them with student campus life activities, as well as providing a guided pathway to completing higher education and fulfilling careers. Coastline College, a multi-campus community college located in Orange County, CA, has joined this phenomenon, but with a twist. Although gaming and esports are perceived as a male-dominated industry, at Coastline College the three people leading the school’s esports program, the development of esports, and the curriculum associated with esports are women and women of color.
Dr. Dana Emerson is the dean of Instruction and president of the Esports Board. She had the foresight to bring esports to the college and hired Katherine Amoukhteh, an expert in the field, to help establish the college’s esports program. Stephanie Bridges, a professor of English at Coastline—and someone who has also been a gamer herself since she was young—is a faculty advisor for the esports program. Even the president of the esports club at Coastline College is a woman. The origin and development of esports at Coastline is also following an unconventional trajectory, as the primary focus of the program is not competition, but is instead community.
“I think it’s important to understand how we did our entire rollout so that it was with equity,” explained Dr. Emerson. “We didn’t start with competitions. That’s usually a very masculine way to start things; to go out and fight for a win. What we really wanted to start with was a community, so we started with the club, we started with an opportunity for students to come together and build a network to build their own community.”
In existence for three semesters, the esports program at Coastline is, for now, a club, but the groundwork and plans are underway to infuse esports into the curriculum.