College esports launches are similar to startups--they require an agile approach and innovative problem solving, along with strong leadership.

How esports led to major growth in student leadership at Cal State


College esports launches are similar to startups--they require an agile approach and innovative problem solving

In 2021, the global competitive video game market (esports) was valued at just over $1.08 billion dollars. Esports has become a popular way to promote student engagement on college campuses. However, colleges have a tremendous amount of information to learn, and with limited data on proven esports track records, schools are finding it very difficult to create sustainable and educational programming.

What makes forming new programs most challenging is that college esports programs borrow from many familiar industries simultaneously, providing a sense of false security regarding the ease and understanding of this space. Esports may look and feel like a “plug and play” approach that would require little effort and minimal need for expert guidance, but creating a successful program is a much more complicated process. It requires a deep understanding of multiple industries and the ability to connect them all into one.

College esports launches are a lot like startup up businesses. They require an agile approach and innovative problem solving. Esports matches are broadcast using the talent and technology found in the entertainment industry. Like traditional sports, esports teams compete through established rankings and coach-led player development. Community members with social media savvy drive event attendance and overall participation, provided that the members feel a sense of connection to the brand. Simply put, programs need specialists from multiple fields to work together for successful results. 

On December 15, 2020, the Cal State Esports Collective was established to address gaps in knowledge within the space and guide campus leadership towards supporting the esports community’s needs. Operations were formed using a hybrid model of student government processes, campus policies and procedures, and professional esports industry norms.

Community members include student leaders, faculty, staff, and administrators from across the 23 California State University (CSU) campuses; members from the CSU Chancellor’s Office; local, national, and global brands; and passionate gamers from schools and universities outside of the CSU system. By focusing on the needs of both higher education and professional esports spaces, all major stakeholders are represented and have a voice in the direction of initiatives.

eSchool Media Contributors