Eastern Michigan to launch inclusive eSports to connect with students

Eastern Michigan to launch inclusive eSports to connect with students

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Eastern Michigan University plans to use video games to engage current students and attract new ones.

The school already offers a degree in simulation, animation and gaming, but now it’s partnering with Gen. G., an operator of eSports leagues in the U.S., China and South Korea, to bring both competition and awareness to the campus.

“You’re going to see initiatives where we’ll have some competition but more than that, we’re trying to look at initiatives that will connect with our students,” said Calvin Phillips, associate vice president of student affairs at Eastern. “We realize that is our student body.” 

Oakland University and Michigan Technological University also offer eSports.

The initiative dubbed the EMU + Gen.G Futures Program, will use social media to highlight the connections between gaming, business and technology. It will host high school invitationals where kids can compete at video games against each other and against members of EMU’s teams.

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The school eventually plans to field a team of gamers who will compete against other teams from other universities.

“We want to be able to say, ‘hey, there’s an opportunity here at Eastern, to continue that passion that you may have around the esports community,’ ” Phillips said “There’s the other flip side of it. It’s a whole industry in itself, it’s an industry that’s taken off and we want to be able to show students, current and future students, there are opportunities to make a career out of it.”

In August, the school will launch a Women in Gaming program called Gamer Girls Get it Done that will feature a three-day digital camp to attract young women to an activity that has historically been dominated by men.

Phillips said the COVID-19 crisis has brought increased attention to online learning, and gaming is a natural extension of that. 

The school has a gaming area set up in one of its libraries and it will be connected to learning. Not all kids want to game themselves, but the school plans to emphasize other opportunities connected to it, like technology and even shoutcasting, the online play-by-play call of games.

“We’re honored to have Eastern Michigan join the University of Kentucky and University of Pennsylvania within our family to provide competition, curriculum and connections,” said Jordan Sherman, head of revenue operations for Gen.G.

Contact John Wisely: 313-222-6825 or jwisely@freepress.com. On Twitter @jwisely

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