Esports has outgrown the mere competitive pursuit that forms the basis of its relationship with video games. For educators, in fact, the games themselves are largely irrelevant; esports is a tool for learning, its gameplay a valuable conduit for digital skills.
That ethos is at play in the Confetti Institute of Creative Technologies’ BSc Esports Production degree, one of the few esports degrees that haven’t labelled themselves as just ‘Esports’.
It’s a subtle distinction, but one that Gin Rai, the degree’s Esports Manager and Course Leader, thinks makes a fundamental difference. In an increasingly crowded market of higher education esports degrees — many of which have received widespread criticism over over-generalised course content and teaching — Confetti’s narrower, more specialised focus on production looks to make it stand out.
“Look at esports less so as the gaming part — take that out for a second,” Rai reasoned. “Look at esports as a vehicle for learning: the learning that is taking place is about and around all of the things that plug into esports as this massive umbrella.”
Using esports as a vehicle for teaching key skills — an increasingly common mantra in education circles — is where a lot of its value in education lies. Nonetheless, while transferable skills are vital, Confetti built its esports degree because it saw a specific gap in the market for esports production technicians.
Rai explained that this gap has existed for quite some time. “The best way to put it is you’ve got a lot of entry-level, grassroots productions where you can…spend a few thousand pounds for a PC and some gear, learn the basics and you’ve got a home setup to run a production.
“But between that and then the arena-grade content, where you’re spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on specialist equipment and need specialist knowledge and skills, there is really a gap in the middle.”
Confetti is plugging that gap with a degree that’s laser-focused on esports production. Crucially, said Rai, it grants access to industry-grade equipment that students can utilise through opportunities working on events, such as the upcoming Commonwealth Esports Championships. The qualifiers for the Championships are being held on Confetti’s campus.
The institute, based in Nottingham, is soon to launch Confetti X, its £5m production complex for students. Rai promised the price tag wasn’t because it has gold doorknobs — it comes complete with state-of-the-art broadcast production and virtual production technologies used in multiple content creation industries.
At present, a do-it-yourself volunteering-led approach is a common route into the industry, but Rai emphasised that trainees need access to relevant equipment and, more importantly, relevant opportunities to be best prepared (and best qualified) to enter the market.
“The industry doesn’t have trained specialists in esports,” Rai said, fittingly dressed in a BLAST cap and Razer headphones. “There’ll be trained specialists in broadcast for example, but they don’t play video games, they don’t know video games. So immediately their capacity to work in esports is reduced because of the lack of experience in the video game itself.
“It’s crucial when working on an esports production to understand the roles within the team, understand how they work together and to know the game that’s being played. It’s a multi-layer and multiplayer experience… pun intended.”
One of Confetti’s big draws is that it offers industry work experience as part of its course, assuaging the common criticism that university esports degrees fail to offer real-world experience. The institute is well integrated into the European collegiate scene, with its students running events for the likes of NSE, NUEL and the British Esports Student Championships.
“These learning experiences and connection to the industry through our tutors and Confetti’s contacts have provided the foundations for our students to springboard their careers in esports production,” Rai continued. “A number of our students are already working in paid broadcast production roles for well-known national and international organisations. We’ll be officially sharing their experiences soon so you can hear it from them.”
The jury is still out on generic esports degrees. But with Confetti’s focused Esports Production degree offering passion, expertise and real experience in the industry, its soon-to-graduate first cohort is looking like an attractive talent pool to hire from.
Supported by our sponsor Confetti