Among the studying population, getting some time off from a lecture or class immediately entails them jumping onto CS:GO or League of Legends with their friends to have some fun. But things have changed: the growth that the gaming and esports industry has achieved in recent times has opened up new professional possibilities for students, turning their passion into a job opportunity.
The total revenue of the esports industry in 2021 was estimated by Newzoo to be $833.6 million, and this is enhanced by a rising number of jobs, university courses and opportunities, making it one of the fastest growing and desirable sectors to lead a career in. Globally, there are about three billion players that drive the gaming market. By analysing the current situation of the esports industry in MENA, we will see that the sector has experienced faster growth here than in any other nearby geographical area. According to Newzoo estimates, it is expected that in the next five years, this region will account for 15% of the total sector in the world and will have more than 434 million players.
On a smaller scale, we have witnessed this growth during the Amazon UNIVERSITY Esports competition. This last season has been outstanding: it had representatives from approximately 170 universities, 1,700 teams and more than 8,600 players from the UAE, KSA, Egypt and Morocco, who were competing since November 2021 to reach the first edition of the Amazon UNIVERSITY Esports MENA Masters.
The total revenue of the esports industry in 2021 was estimated by Newzoo to be $833.6 million
The most obvious route into esports is through being the best at a given game, with teams willing to sign players up on a contract to represent them at tournaments and online leagues. And whilst this is desirable, there are a whole host of other careers within the industry, including technical and creative roles available for those with a passion for gaming.
Beyond the players, in-person gaming events require event organisers, planners and managers, advertising, sponsorship, social media promotion, casting, filming and tech support, and that’s before even getting to the participants, which involves players, coaches, and team organizations. This creates a wealth of jobs and opportunities, growing at an all-time high.
These opportunities are also available through online esports leagues as well. We are in an era where traditional television is being taken over by Netflix, YouTube and Twitch, creating new mediums for viewers to engage with esports, reflected by a growing viewer base.
Research from VentureBeat estimated that in 2021 there were 234 million esports enthusiasts and 240 million occasional esports viewers, up from 197 and 200.8 million respectively in 2019, highlighting a stark growth. It is estimated that by 2024, these numbers will be hitting the likes of 285.8 million enthusiasts and 291.6 million occasional viewers. Those in emerging regions, which include MENA, are predicted to continue to rise, going from 83.6 million in 2021 to 95.5 million in 2022.
In the UAE and KSA specifically, funds have been allocated for various sectors including esports and gaming. In KSA, this is also collaborating with its opening to international relationships and foreign tourism. With a large portion of the population being under 25, there is an abundance of youth to create an avid gaming community and progress the market even further.
This is supported by an increase in job awareness through sites like Hitmarker, a dedicated jobs site for advertising esports opportunities.
Research from VentureBeat estimated that in 2021 there were 234 million esports enthusiasts and 240 million occasional esports viewers
The esports ecosystem supports universities through the development of teaching, facilities and opportunities in the industry, which helps focus on students’ interests whilst developing their core skills in preparation for a career in the industry.
For example, GEMS FirstPoint School – The Villa is the first school in the UAE (and the Middle East) to offer BTEC qualifications in both Esports and Digital Game Design – esports is also offered as an extracurricular activity for all year groups across the school, complete with internal competitions and leagues. Institutions like the University of Wollongong in Dubai, Heriot-Watt and SAE Institute also offer degrees in game design.
The importance of good training in developing the esports industry is being increasingly recognised by universities, which are creating new courses each year as a result. Courses involving business, management, events, marketing, journalism and design all offer unique skills, which match up with a plethora of new jobs emerging in the esports scene, and with the industry growing at the rate it is, the number of these jobs will only rise.
The importance of good training in developing the esports industry is being increasingly recognised by universities
Moving forwards, the onus is not only on the esports industry to supply opportunities for university students but also on the university ecosystem to provide the highest-quality education and training to fuel the integration of new talent into the dynamic esports workforce.
Part of the fabric for the future development and growth of the esports industry is putting faith in the talent of university students, being willing to innovate courses, equipment and opportunities, and supporting students every step of the way to help turn their hobby into their future employment.
That’s why university campuses are the best testing space for evolving equipment, products and services whilst allowing students to gain valuable experience, especially through internships and competition management.
Opening people’s eyes to the vast array of opportunities and careers that the esports sector has to offer will fuel the next generation to become the core of the industry during its rapid growth.
Students should be encouraged to take the plunge, and universities and esports professionals must provide the best assistance possible to welcome the new generation to help the entire esports industry grow.