Through a $4 million donation by video game company Activision Blizzard CEO Robert Kotick, a new multidisciplinary esports program will be established within the University of Michigan (UM) School of Information.
The donation will be used to establish an esports minor, which is expected to be up and running by next year, to help interested students build a career in the profitable video gaming industry.
UM administration plans to fund a professor who will be at the forefront of developing the program, which will merge research and instruction in computer science, sports management, user experience, and other disciplines.
The online gaming industry has experienced massive growth in recent years. Total viewership is expected to reach 646 million in 2023 with revenues projected at $1.8B in 2022, according to Business Insider.
Dean Thomas Finholt of the UM School of Information stated that the program is “an opportunity to contribute to an understanding of video gaming broadly and esports more specifically as a tremendously important cultural and economic phenomenon.”
First on the list of priorities will be developing an introductory course with an innovative, multidisciplinary curriculum that covers topics such as the differences between traditional sports and esports and the structure of esports leagues and tournaments, among others.
This course will aim to connect prospective students with esports platforms, teams, and industry experts.
“Esports is poised for explosive growth, and I am thrilled to join the University of Michigan to develop a program that will cultivate the talent to meet the needs of this complex and evolving industry,” Kotick remarked in a statement.