Dominic Sacco chats to NUEL founder Josh Williams about all things university esports, gaming degrees and how the university body the NUEL has changed in the 10 years its been in operation. Here are five highlights from our interview stream…
‘Reaching out to your university esports society is more important than ever’
For many new students, meeting new people and making friends and being away from home for the first time can be a daunting experience. Josh encourages students to reach out to their gaming societies (even digitally) and go for it, especially this year given current circumstances.
“Reaching out and getting involved is probably more important this year as it ever has been. The social experiences you might have enjoyed at university are potentially not going to be there [because of the Covid situation]. Get to know your committee, learn about their introduction events they put on at the beginning of the year, meet new people, bond and get to know each other. I know it’s easy to say, but don’t be afraid to reach out. The guys running these committees put a lot of work into figuring out how they can best welcome new people.
“So there’s going to be a lot of work done by us, by societies and everyone involved in the uni ecosystem to provide as much opportunity for people to socialise, get together and enjoy their time at university, and try to make it a little more special.”
How taking part in university esports can help you reach that next level
“[Looking at a degree, or getting involved in university esports in terms of tournaments] can offer a starting point for people looking for a career in esports. More people are looking to get involved [with full-time esports work] and you do need experience before you can even get some volunteer opportunities or work at Insomnia, for example.
“I think university esports gives a lot of people that opportunity to gain experience and skills.
“The winners of our European tournament let people qualify for an international university tournament. Last year it was in Hong Kong. It’s highly produced. It helps create the experience of being in the shoes of a pro player, in a lot of ways. It’s great to see players from the university scene going to that professional level too. I like to think we’re helping in some way to help people start out and show how the space works.”
Let’s be positive about esports qualifications
There has been some criticism of esports degrees in recent weeks, with some in the community concerned about the value of a degree solely focused on esports.
Josh said: “There have been some suggestions that any esports qualification is a waste of time, and some universities have the wrong motivations. I think it’s important not to tar students in a negative light – there is still a lot to improve, learn and grow on in the space [but let’s try to be positive].
“I think qualifications give people to gain some experience and skills. I think some people don’t think about them in the right way. They think that if you do a course, that will be the job you get in the same area after graduating, but you actually get a lot of transferable skills too. A lot of qualifications are fairly general in a lot of respects. It’s hard to be properly trained in a job you will do, you’ll learn experience while on the job too.”
Uni esports degrees in the future
Josh spoke about how these may develop in the years to come.
He said: “Different models are going to come out in terms of how people approach it. Right now courses offer an entire degree about esports as an undergraduate thing. That may change, there could be more modules within degrees and qualifications.
“There are other creative approaches and ways to be pioneering. Offering scholarships to students for esports, I think that’s a really cool approach as well. You’ll see a multitude of different approaches, it’s going to take time to figure it out.”