Should You Apply to Esports Entrepreneurship and Administration at Lambton College?

Competitive video gaming, or esports, has taken the world by storm and nowadays it seems like every other kid wants to be a professional gamer, a streamer or youtuber. The reality is that most of them fail to make it even remotely close to their dreams. But, with such a trend rising, Lambton College has released the first-ever post-secondary business-oriented esport program in North America, Esports Entrepreneurship & Administration (or ESEA for short). Is Lambton College attempting to scam naive hopeful teens with the dream of being in esports? What could this program possibly teach students and how would that actually help them in the real world. Luckily for you, I got the opportunity to interview several students in the program and I enrolled myself to understand what there is to gain and what is truly at stake.

What is The Esports Entrepreneurship & Administration Program and Why Esports?

Esports is currently the undeniable fastest growing industry in the world. In 2019, the industry has hit 1 billion dollars of revenue, and its year-on-year growth exceeds 25% annually. Canada in particular is extremely behind with their esport infrastructure and there is so much potential for growth all over the nation.

ESEA’s first year focuses on several aspects of the industry, including general business, esport culture, sports marketing (and its correlation to esports marketing), project and tournament management, sponsorship and streaming fundamentals.

Picture of the Border City Battle 2019 hosted by Lambton College’s ESEA students running Smash Ultimate, Fortnite, Rocket League, League of Legends and Hearthstone

The second year is focused on the entrepreneurial side, providing the students with the opportunity to determine which section of the industry most interests them and gives them the chance to dive right into it with professional guidance and support. This year, there is a possibility to showcase some of the second-year student’s projects to real investors in hopes of getting them started on their own businesses.

Interestingly, when ESEA students were asked what they like about the program, everyone had a different answer. A few key answers that well demonstrate the strengths of the program are: there is a lot of hands-on-experiences, this program fosters a lot of personal growth and development (if the student leverages the opportunities presented) and several networking opportunities with big names in the industry. These are just a few, but there were almost no consistent answers to this question, it goes to show how every students’ experience is unique.

On the contrary, there were a few consistent dislikes for the students. Notably, All the complaints were the result of the course’s lack of maturity. The biggest dislike presented was with the courses included as filler credits, such as “Business English”. This course teaches elementary-level concepts such as when the apostrophe goes before and after the ‘s’, what is a run-on sentence and when to capitalize words. There are other adjustments to the program that need to be made, like including more courses focusing on different avenues of the esport industry. There are currently already many planned modifications for next year that addresses many of the issues that current students have.

Now to address a huge concern among almost all students that consider coming into this program, is there a possibility to get a stable job in the esport industry post-graduation? When posed the question, most students believed that graduates can get a stable job in the industry. The issue with this is that none of them have actually graduated, therefore no one has the proof to backup their claims. This program does a great job to leave students hopeful, but they have nothing to base this assumption on. It is hard to truly say what jobs are opening up and if they are truly obtainable with this specific college diploma. Admittedly, I am also a student who baselessly believes that it is possible in to get a job in the industry post-graduation, but I am more than ready to switch to my backup plans if that dream fails. 

Is This Program Worth Applying To?

The moment someone reads the title of the program, the problem is generally with the word “esports”.  This program is not a means for students to play games or improve their gameplay, it is a business program which specializes in esports, the fastest growing industry in the world. What you should keep in mind is that many of the other students who apply tend to be big gamers. As a program full of group assignments, it becomes very problematic to work with students who spend substantial amounts of time gaming.

Work-in-progress diagram showing esports related professions. Credit to Nico Besombes.

Although this program had its flaws, for the right person this program could open doors to some extremely exciting and impactful jobs in an industry that is still growing and ever-changing. But who is the “right person” to apply to this program? There was a consistent theme between the students when questioned on the characteristics of the “right person”.

Keep in mind that the “right person” is not the only person that could potentially succeed in this program. I touch on this below!

The one thing that stayed consistent between every single interview is that if you are planning to apply to this program, you have to be a hard-working person, someone who can discipline themselves, balance work and life, and get stuff done. A lot of students come into this program with the inability to balance their gaming life with priorities and this program provides too many windows for students to ride the success of others. The habits you build in your school life will transfer into your professional career, and the real world will not let you do no work and get paid. Not only will you lose valuable learning and networking opportunities, but you are also wasting two years of your life and a lot of money.

That could be even taken a step further, the “right person” would not stop at doing his responsibilities in class, they would constantly work on building a portfolio and expanding their list of experiences. Getting into the esport industry is not an easy feat, especially in its current explosive state, but having the experiences to back you up and make you different will be a huge factor in your success. It is important to do things that will make you different and stand out; Why would a company hire you over someone else? This is important regardless of which industry you are working in, but crucial in the esport industry.

Lastly, the right person is ready to learn. Ready to learn not only the class content but ready to learn from their peers. Ready to learn how to work in groups, with people they may not want to work with. Ready to learn from the successes and mistakes of others, but more importantly of their own. Ready to learn when to take responsibility, when to take action, and when to shut up and listen. The core of this program is unique by the fact that you are working with the members in your program to run various events; This involves all elements of the industry. Some people will know more, some people will show you up, and when they do be ready to keep your ears open and learn as much as you can from them.

But when even being the “right person”, there are still risks to consider. First off, this program has no post-graduation success rate as no students have graduated yet. Additionally, the negative notions towards esports may hinder the credibility to the diploma. But it is important to keep in mind that the esport industry as a whole is rapidly developing, which will result in a lot of job openings for the industry in the near future. That being said, many of them nowadays are not as visible and are not of great numbers, especially in Canada.

Furthermore, you may not have to be the “right person”, you could be good enough and that could work. You could literally come to class, not say a word all day, leave and possibly get a job in the industry without a problem. At this point, no one can truly say. But why put yourself in a situation where you apply to a program like ESEA, that is a risky pathway, and all you plan to do is the bare minimum. Perhaps it all does work out and you have no issues at all doing the minimum, think about how much further you could have made it if you put more effort in your college life. This can be said for any occupation in any industry. 

Verdict: Should You Apply to This Program?

It depends. Candidly, it is an uncertain risk. We do not have a post-graduation success rate and who knows where you may end up after graduating. But many of the students believe (and I agree wholeheartedly) that if you put the effort in, showcase your skills as in individual, build a portfolio and work hard to make the most of your time, you will make it. We believe this program is a great way to get your foot in the door into the esport industry, although I would be lying if I did not say that we still worry about what will happen after graduation.

Regardless of what you decide to do, know that the characteristics of the “right person” will make or break any career in any industry to varying degrees. Make the most of every opportunity, work hard and be ready to learn, and everything should be alright.