Games and e-sports flourish in college creativity sandbox
Universities no longer wonder how they fit into the esports ecosystem. While some schools are focused on launching an esports team, many are simultaneously working on developing the next generation of workers who will build and grow the gaming and esports industry to new heights.
The University of Maryland (UMD) is one of many higher education institutions that have invested resources in their gaming initiatives by opening the Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Engineering in 2019. Major donor, Brendan Iribe, attended UMD in 1997-1998. before leaving to start his career in video games. After years of experience, he co-founded the virtual reality company Oculus, which Facebook acquired for roughly $ 2 billion in 2014. It was trailblazers like Iribe starting to give back to the community that helped spark their curiosity in space for the current generation to flourish.
Two UMD students who benefited from the Iribe Center are Galen Stetsyuk and Mikhail Sorokin, who met at school. “It was more than Iribe’s gift that sparked my passion in virtual reality (VR) space,” Stetsyuk said. “It was the opportunity to meet people like Brendan Iribe, who provided us with a network to access the equipment and resources needed to launch our game., M-PLEX, a multiplayer VR tank combat video game currently in development. To date, the team has raised $ 1.2 million in two rounds of funding.
Not to be outdone, the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) has its own incubator space called MAGIC, an academic research center focused on media, arts, games, interaction and creativity, founded in 2013. According to the director of the RIT of the Simone Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Richard DeMartino, “One thing that sets us apart is that MAGIC is a stand-alone center directly linked to interactive games; including movies, animations and software. MAGIC has its own outlets with the ability to create games and distribute them through the MAGIC infrastructure, allowing students to earn course credits for their work. “As one of the oldest COOP teaching schools in the country,” added DeMartino, “90% of our students have to go through a ‘residency program’ and game development is very appealing these days.
Ben Garvey and Harry McCardell, co-owners of Grand Lake Games (GLG), a company focused on hosting virtual and in-person gaming events across the country, viewed MAGIC as their creativity sandbox. “Although I came to RIT to study coding, it wasn’t in the cards,” Garvey said. However, instead of resigning, he turned to game design and entrepreneurship, “which saved my college career.”
Garvey follows in the footsteps of another RIT graduate who almost did not graduate but returned to RIT to donate $ 50 million a week after its inception, Datto (a data protection company), sold to Vista Equity Partners for $ 1.5 billion. According to Garvey, “This donation allowed me to take a GAP year to launch GLG and now we have five RIT interns and the opening of our first physical space in downtown Rochester (NY) is just around the corner.” .
Drexel University, another tech-focused institute, is also focused on keeping its startups in the local economy. Based in Pennsylvania, their entrepreneurship game studio, ExCITe, was originally founded in 2014 with a $ 200,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. Dr Frank Lee, director of the ExCITe Center, believes he can “create a mini-factory for game startups where Drexel can guide students in the development of their game companies and have one of the between them succeed and remain in the eastern region of the PA “. “Beyond creating a hub for the PA game industry, Lee is really focused on entrepreneurship.” The game studio’s vision is to develop the mindset of the game. entrepreneur who we believe is teachable and an essential tool for the future workplace. “
Regardless of the educational institution, gaming and esports are here to stay in higher education. Creating a place to quickly fail and move forward with an idea is just one of the ways that US-based schools have continued to push the boundaries of video gaming.