First-year professor Ryan Rogers is helping to bring esports to Butler.
In the spring 2018 semester, Rogers is teaching a class called Competitive Video Gaming: The Wide World of eSports. The class will cover a range of topics from the history of esports to the role that video games play in society.
“I think there’s going to be an interesting group of people in there who really care about that area,” Rogers said. “And are going to be really invested and really excited, and want to kind of get the ball rolling.”
Details of the class are still being figured out, but it is currently scheduled to take place in a Fairbanks computer lab so students will have access to computers. After the first week of the enrollment window, nine of the 16 spots in the class had been filled.
“Personally I’d really like to… get the context and the history of eSports,” Jacob Mummert, a student interested in the class, said. “I have a vague idea of what it is, but it’d be nice if I’m going to participate in it to be able to know more about it, know its significance in society, and really the industry and what future holds for that.”
Rogers said he hopes the class will include playing video games in addition to learning about them. He is currently looking into different options for getting video games such as Hearthstone and Overwatch onto school computers.
“I think [Rogers’] professional experience will really help add a lot to that class,” Dana Lee, who currently has a sports broadcasting class with Rogers, said. “It’s one thing to learn things in like a classroom environment but it definitely helps when your professor adds in that perspective of knowing what it’s like in the real world.”
The class falls under the supervision of the creative media and entertainment department within the College of Communication. Rogers, a sports media professor, envisions esports becoming a central part of Butler’s sports media program.
“It’s something that I think is really integrated into our lives,” Rogers said. “And something we should be paying attention to and developing an understanding of.”
Associate Professor and CME department Chair Christine Taylor said next semester’s class is listed as a seminar and is serving as a trial run. The class will be offered again the following semester if it goes well. After a second successful test, it could become a permanent course.
“We think generally it acknowledges that sports media is bigger than just what we think of as broadcast,” Taylor said. “Television, radio, the more traditional media, print, and even multimedia.”
Rogers is also in the beginning stages of working with students to create an esports club. He said he would love to see a competitive team formed with scholarships being offered.
Thanks to Rogers, esports is gaining traction at Butler and becoming another option for students interested in sports media.