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The Future of Esports in British Columbia and how to get involved

 Photographer Alex Santos, Vancouver Titans, & “Nooxy”

Esports (electronic sports) is an exciting, rapidly growing industry today, having evolved from tournaments organized by video game hobbyists and game studios. The first of those competitions is believed to be the Space Invaders Tournament (hosted by Atari in 1980), which had a stunning reception of ten thousand-plus gamers.

Fast-forward to 2022, and it’s become so big that it’s got investments from music icons such as Drake and sporting legends Odell Beckham Jr. and Usain Bolt.

With all this growth, it is a great time for young professionals like us BCIT students to get an idea of where this exploding industry is at and where it’s headed next. But the esports niche itself, as with tech and entertainment in general, can be a mystery for people outside the industry (possibly including you).

To help demystify this niche, I reached out to industry experts for insider tidbits and was able to get in touch with Dennis “Barroi” Matz, esports professional of more than seven years and General Manager of the Vancouver Titans esports organization, which is part of the Overwatch League. 

Dennis has observed big changes in the esports industry. He writes: “When I first heard of it, there were tournaments at events that were mainly used for something else [such as] PC conventions. Now there are dedicated events to a single esport at a time. […] [It has also] gained a lot of attention from the mainstream financial world [and] there are teams out there now owned by traditional sports teams. […] That financial support added a lot of resources like capabilities to hire people good at acquiring sponsorships.”

And along with this evolution, new opportunities have emerged for young professionals.

“For graduates,” Dennis says, “this simply means there are more job opportunities in an industry they might enjoy.”

So, what ways to get involved are available to those of us who want to start planning for a career in esports?

 “Hit up your local esports centres and tournament organizers [and] find mentors in the space,” says Shawn Caldera, whom I also had the opportunity to connect with. 

Shawn is the founder of Volcanic Media Inc., an esports tournament organizer that connects communities to major esports. He is also a former member of the Vancouver Economic Commission, an organization that helps safeguard and strengthen Vancouver’s economy. 

Dennis shares similar advice: “Check with esports organizations for open positions or internships. It can be a great experience to work closely with [one].”

Dennis also suggests checking out Hitmarker, in his words “the go-to site for many esports teams.” This is a popular platform for hiring in the video game and esports industry. You can think of it as the Indeed of esports.

Of course, challenges do exist in the industry.

Dennis reveals that the biggest challenges in North America are related to infrastructure. “There is a huge lack of public transportation virtually anywhere […] when compared to Europe.” Another challenge is about connecting esports teams to fans, making it, as Dennis says, “harder for people to go to events and get to actually meet their esports heroes.”

Dennis reveals that the biggest challenges in North America are related to infrastructure. “There is a huge lack of public transportation virtually anywhere […] when compared to Europe.” Another challenge is about connecting esports teams to fans, making it, as Dennis says, “harder for people to go to events and get to actually meet their esports heroes.”

When speaking on challenges with the esports industry in BC, Shawn says that one of the major issues he’s noticed is a lack of talent, but there’s hope: “This upcoming economic slump will drive the skills that are more digitally inclined to be valuable, and esports allows younger generations to grow and refine their skills in something they give a shit about.”

Assuming Shawn’s predictions are correct, we can expect increased demand for talent, creating more opportunities to combine gaming and career paths.

As a BCIT student who is a fan of esports, I see all this advice as a reminder of a very simple principle: to pursue your passions. This is something that many young people forget in the face of societal pressures to be “successful.” 

When you graduate from BCIT, you will be equipped with the tools to make your hobbies and passions into a career. And if you’re (now) interested in making esports a possible path to pursue, know that this industry is growing so rapidly and expected to have many openings—you just might be poised to build a career in the field. After all, this piece has equipped you with industry advice and tools like Hitmarker, which can definitely get you one step closer to your goal.

References:

Aaron, Jesse. “The Controversial Dichotomy between Sports and ESports.” HuffPost. HuffPost, December 7, 2017. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/the-controversial-dichoto_b_6692052.

Fitch, Adam. “Drake among Investors in $3M Funding Round for Players’ Lounge.” Esports Insider. Esports Insider, March 28, 2019. https://esportsinsider.com/2019/03/players-lounge-3m-investment-drake.

Gardner, Matt. “Usain Bolt Enters Esports with Surprising Team Ownership Deal.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, April 1, 2022. https://www.forbes.com/sites/mattgardner1/2022/03/30/usain-bolt-enters-esports-with-surprising-team-ownership-deal/.

Heitner, Darren. “St. Louis Cardinals, Kevin Durant and Odell Beckham Jr.. Join $38 Million Esports Capital Raise.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, February 23, 2018. https://www.forbes.com/sites/darrenheitner/2018/02/22/st-louis-cardinals-kevin-durant-and-odell-beckham-jr-join-38-million-esports-capital-raise/.

Intelligence, Insider. “Esports Industry in 2022: Market Stats & Viewership Growth Trends.” Insider Intelligence. Insider Intelligence, March 7, 2022. https://www.insiderintelligence.com/insights/esports-ecosystem-market-report/.