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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Essex resident the head of new St. Clair College gaming program

by Kyle Reid

Lifelong Essex resident Shaun Byrne is heading a new academic program at St. Clair College, which will educate students in the business of competitive online gaming.

The eSports Administration and Entrepreneurship program, announced by college officials last Wednesday, is designed with a mixture of traditional business courses, sports management marketing courses, an eSports media production course, and an eSports history course.

The new program is the latest step by the college to head into the quickly growing competitive gaming market. Last year, St. Clair College became the first post-secondary institution in Canada to launch an eSports varsity team. Byrne, the college’s eSports Director, was first approached by college officials to help consult for a gaming event in 2016 when he pitched the idea for the team.

“While I was in meetings to consult for that gaming event. I took the opportunity to push for a varsity program and they loved it,” Byrne said.

A key part of developing the varsity team is providing the gamers’ eligibility for the same scholarships available to varsity athletes participating in traditional sports. Byrne said that he believes the new academic program is another big step for the college to break into a rapidly growing industry.

“[St. Clair College] saw so much value in the varsity program that they realized there was an opportunity for an academic program to train students to work in this industry,” Byrne said. 

St. Clair’s new eSports administration program, he added, will prepare students for a wide-range of career opportunities, including, eSports team manager, graphic designers, social media managers, video editors, eSports coaching, content producers, and content marketers. Graduates of the program may also pursue careers as competitive online gamers or professional video game streamers.

“One of the most common questions I get from people starting off, whether it [is] companies looking for talent, or schools starting programs, is, ‘where do you hire people to coach your teams; where do you find people to commentate or live stream your productions?” Byrne said “There’s nowhere right now.”

While the labour market for graduates is certainly non-traditional, Byrne noted that there is a high demand for this type of program. He said he hopes programs like this will become normalized as the competitive gaming industry sees a demand for qualified and skilled workers on the rise.

“I have several industry partners on board as program advisors that have already said they hope to bring these students in for internships and give them jobs when they graduate,” Byrne said. “There’s a lot of opportunities on the horizon for our students for sure.” 

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