W&M Business School Gets Bigger With New Esports & Marketing Course

by Olivia Manousos, W&M School of Business


September 8, 2021

The world of competitive video games, known as esports, has grown in popularity over the years. Estimated to generate over $ 1 billion in revenue by 2021, the popularity of the esports industry has garnered a lot of attention on how esports works from a business perspective.

This summer, Professors Sailesh Patel and Karen Conner brought this discussion to the Raymond A. Mason School of Business by leading the esports and marketing course.

While developing the course, Patel and Conner were tasked with laying the groundwork for the esports course, as this would be the first 3 credit esports course at William & Mary. The most crucial goal in creating a course like this is to introduce the relationship between business and esports in a holistic way.

“We wanted to introduce students to how they could apply marketing concepts to the esports industry,” Conner said. The combination of Patel’s experience in the gaming industry and Conner’s business experience, as well as his leadership role on the advisory board of William & Mary’s Esports, allowed them to do just that.

For Lilie Malaeb ’21, this was her first formal introduction to esports.

“Exploring the marketing principles surrounding games and entertainment and the ever-growing size of the industry allowed me to better understand the potential career paths that I could pursue in the field and with my major in Marketing, which I hadn’t considered before, ”she explained.

Meanwhile, student Allen Ngo ’23, who was already interested in esports before taking the course, could better visualize what he wanted to do in the industry.

“[The course was] not just about wanting to have a gaming related job, “he described,” but more about the talents and skills you can cultivate that would apply to gaming as well. “

As interest in esports grows, courses like Esports & Marketing provide William & Mary students with the knowledge and skills to make a positive impact.

“As W&M is steeped in history and driven by innovation, we recognize the responsibility of providing our students with access to the billion dollar esports industry,” said Michele King, director of W&M esports. Offering courses that apply an esports lens provides “our students with” the standards of the academic rigors of W&M coupled with experiential learning to create a pipeline in esports. We prepare our students to be pioneers in developing this landscape! “

According to Conner, with the many opportunities in esports, having a course like this highlights the common misconception that the only way to get involved in the esports industry is to be a gamer. professional.

“In esports there are so many opportunities and jobs for students, entrepreneurship, marketing, casting, data analytics, wellness, IT, content creation, from music composition and production to ethical, legal and psychological aspects of the game. ” she says.

The course’s range of guest speakers exposed students to the many career avenues within the esports industry. In fact, for student Alex Washington ’24, it was his favorite part of the course.

“We were able to meet a variety of people in the esports industry of all skill levels, which not only allowed us to better understand what the industry is, but also provided us with an additional platform to ask professionals questions and network with them, ”Washington shared.

The esports community is growing every day. In fact, it is starting to become more popular than traditional professional sports, with the design of esports 33 million additional viewers as NFL and rugby combined in 2019. With courses such as esports and marketing, the Mason School strengthens the community of over 300 players on campus while preparing students for a life of success within the esports industry.

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