INDIANAPOLIS — A Butler University student is about to make history as the school's first esports graduate, set to walk across the stage on Friday with a minor in esports communications.
The campus itself is evolving, changing to meet the growing demand for esports as student interest in careers and egaming continues to explode.
"If you would have told me that four years ago I'd be graduating with a minor in esports, I would have never believed you," said A.J. Kool.
Kool's graduation is significant for the school, as he's the first student with an esports communications minor.
Kool said he's been involved in the esports clubs all four years on campus. This year, he got the chance in esports classes to learn how to produce a broadcast for the ever-growing esports world.
"It was more so centered around an esports broadcast and what would be needed for a livestream or the viewer experience for an esports gaming event," Kool said.
Lee Farquhar oversees the esports minor at Butler. He said the university already has more than a dozen students signed up for the minor and classes for the fall are full.
Farquhar said he's hopeful students can take what they learn here and find a career in this booming esports industry.
"The hope is that it will continue to grow as an academic landing spot for students. The careers are there, the jobs are there, the student interest and passion is there, as well," Farquhar said.
"As you move past reception, you'll come into our actual LAN center, or the arena side of things. This is going to be where the magic happens," said Nathan Duke, esports manager at Butler.
Taking us on a tour through Butler's new esports facility, Duke showed off the future space that will allow students to learn hands-on how to produce esports events. It will also offer space for Butler's esports clubs and teams to play.
"The opportunities that we're going to be able to provide in here on an educational front, not just when it comes to esports, but media content production in all forms of that, the opportunities that we're going to be able to provide in here are endless," Duke said.
Set to open in a few months, Duke said they expect to bring in fans and future esports students to watch club play and learn more about the industry.
“So really, as the esports industry booms, this is a place where there’s a lot of career opportunities, a lot of demand for jobs,” Farquhar said.
"Esports is a booming industry and especially coming post-COVID and post pandemic, people are looking for those events that they can get back into and tap into in the community. And this is going to be the hot new thing on the block. And a lot of kids now are super interested in esports, mom and dad know that and may not quite understand esports yet. This is going to be the perfect place to come introduce them to that," Duke said.
Kool said he's ready to turn college skills into a career. He said he's already got a new gig lined up after graduation. He's hopeful he'll be able to put his esports background to use there and throughout his career.
“Especially with new games coming out, there’s always an audience that wants to watch the best players play at the highest level on the biggest stage. And so more and more, they've needed not just the people that are passionate about the game but also the people who are really good at making the viewer experience fun to watch as well as really clean and professional," Kool said.
Butler's new esports facility is expected to open in a few months, in time for fall classes.
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