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Joshua Wales-Ferguson

Interim Course Director in Esports, Staffordshire University

Richard Mortimer

Technical Services Manager, Staffordshire University

The esports industry is quickly becoming a global gaming phenomenon. Behind the scenes, it needs an army of talent from tournament organisers to broadcast and production crew.

Video game tournaments, once niche, now draw huge crowds and sponsorship, becoming massive entertainment events. Esports, valued at $4.3 billion in 2024, has transformed from a niche interest to a global phenomenon.

Esports industry training and experience

The players are the most visible ingredient of the esports industry. However, behind the scenes, there’s enormous talent, including tournament organisers, event managers, content creators, broadcast and production crews, agents and marketing managers.

It’s a sought-after and vocational field, insists Joshua Wales-Ferguson, Interim Course Director in Esports at Staffordshire University, which has run an undergraduate degree in esports since 2018.

“The people on our course need to have passion for this industry,” he says. “Our job is to equip them with a set of specialist and soft skills, so they can develop into the esports role that most interests them.” Among other things, students learn how to manage events, run their own broadcasts using the latest broadcasting tech, and then market their talents to potential employers.

Because extracurricular activities are an important feature of the course, the university works closely with gaming events companies, such as EPIC.LAN, based in nearby Congleton. “By volunteering to work on real tournaments, students gain invaluable real-world experiences in events management, production and operations,” explains Wales-Ferguson.

Keeping an open mind and exploring career paths

The many and varied skills esports requires are highly transferable to other industries. “For example, if you’re an electronic video systems (EVS) replay operator, you can have a good, highly paid career in esports broadcasting,” says Richard Mortimer, Technical Services Manager at Staffordshire University. “Your skills can also be applied to any type of multi-camera sports broadcast. So, graduates don’t just have to work in the esports industry.”

It’s why Mortimer advises all esports students to keep an open mind about the direction of their careers. “You might start a degree in esports because you enjoy playing video games,” he says. “But, during the course, you could discover that you have a talent for events management — which is a specialist subject in itself — and end up going down a career path you hadn’t previously considered.”

Industry-ready facilities help
deliver industry-ready graduates.

State-of-the-art esports facility expansion

Earlier this year, the university opened a new £2.7 million esports facility on its Stoke-on-Trent campus. This includes a 60-seat arena to hold competitive gameplay events, a multi-camera studio and two professional production galleries. “The arena and the smaller studio give us two broadcast spaces where, previously, we only had one,” says Mortimer. “The arena offers a broadcast space with size, scale and an audience element, while the studio is more intimate and can be used for a range of different presentations.”

Simulating industry standard experiences in a university setting

In production terms, Wales-Ferguson and Mortimer believe students must be exposed to technology — including EVS, media production storage and live video production platforms — that is cutting-edge. “It also fills gaps because there aren’t enough EVS replay operators in the world or individuals who have worked with this level of video-over-IP technology,” says Mortimer.

In May, the facilities hosted a three-day tournament called Campus Clash, organised by final-year esports students. “A live space brings a whole other element to the course,” says Wales-Ferguson. “We had 48 players plus 60 people in the audience roaring at everything happening during the games. Meanwhile, students are involved with stage management, working with the crowds and with the talent — and they’re presenting too. It was everything you could want from an esports event.”

Simulating an experience that is as close to industry standard as possible is good for students — and for potential employers in the esports space and beyond. “This is technology they’ll use in their professional lives,” says Mortimer. “Industry-ready facilities help deliver industry-ready graduates.”

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