Conestoga news

April 11, 2024 4:23 PM

Students interested in esports get VIP tour of Conestoga's state-of-the-art hub

Lucky high school students got a VIP invitation to Conestoga's gaming hub to play and learn more about the new Esports and Event Media Production program.

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High school students join a tournament during an invitation-only event to visit Conestoga's esports hub at the Waterloo campus.

The special invitation-only event on April 4 in the esports hub at the Waterloo campus welcomed teenagers with an interest in the college's new diploma program launching in September 2024 that will teach students how to host successful esports events.

The students - and also their parents who were invited to attend - got a look behind the scenes, met other potential program students, and could ask questions of faculty. That was followed by a tournament for the students and a chance for parents to learn more.

Logan Dragomautz, a Grade 11 student from Brantford, heard about the tour at school and was eager to check it out as he starts to think about career opportunities.

"I'm trying to find ideas," Logan said. "This seems like a good choice."

He was really into gaming when he was younger and knowing it's possible to pursue a career in esports is an exciting possibility. But during the event he was most excited about the esports hub, packed with top-tier equipment from gaming chairs to computers and lit with unique coloured lighting.

"I was astonished. This set-up is so good," Logan said. "It’s just so overwhelming, in such a good way.”

Conestoga’s esports hub opened in November 2022 and is the only purpose-built esports facility of its kind in the region. Construction on an esports arena is underway at the Waterloo campus as part of the second phase of the $47-million redevelopment of the University Avenue East building, slated for completion in April 2025. The 10,000-square-foot arena, which includes a box office and broadcast booth, will be built alongside a 132-seat lecture hall that opens to the esports space for events.

The current space provides hands-on learning for students in Conestoga’s new one-year Esports Marketing and Event Management program that teaches the theoretical and applied skills to become a marketing leader in one of the world’s fastest-growing industries.

The hub is also home to varsity and competitive play with live-streamed play most nights, as well as being available as a recreation service for students. “Compete, play and work” is the motto for the space, which merges the classroom and esports.

The two-year Esports and Event Media Production diploma program will train students on the production needs of hybrid events that are hosted via multiple formats, both online and in person. Drawing from the technology advancements and practices of esports and the video production skills from the media industry, students will learn how to produce dynamic events.

The first term introduces the basics; students then work up to running small events before really putting their production skills to the test in the final capstone project. During the tour presentations, the guests heard about all the tangible skills taught in the program that can be used beyond esports, but also the myriad options to be involved in the massive global industry of esports.

“The skills he can learn here, he can apply anywhere,” said Andrea Tompkins, who asked about what jobs the diploma could lead to for her son, Giacomo.

For many of the parents like Tompkins who accompanied their child, this was their first introduction to esports. “I had no idea what esports was,” Tompkins said. “It’s all new to me.”

She encouraged her son to join the tour to give him an idea what the program was all about. “This is fantastic. I think this will help him decide.”

Giacomo’s fondness for video games prompted him to check out what Conestoga offers as he considers career paths, then come out for a look around the esports hub.

The teen was pleasantly surprised by the new program and the space where students will learn. “I’m a little impressed with everything they have,” Giacomo said.

He knows not everyone can be a star player, but he can be involved with many of the aspects of organizing tournaments, like announcing or filming the action.

“This would be fun to do, so I thought this would be a good opportunity.”

The event organizers were pleased how smoothly the evening went and the engagement of both visiting students and their parents.

“It was a wonderful evening and a pleasure to host students and their families from all over Southwestern Ontario for a night of engagement. We can only tell so much of the story on our website; you really need to be here to capture all that the program has to offer,” said Scott Keller, program manager in the School of Creative Industries.

“Welcoming future students into the space you could immediately see their eyes light up when they saw all the LED lights glowing, control room on display and our esports team running a mock competition in the production-ready environment.”

Keller said the VIP night was a great way to showcase the space and discuss the learning outcomes that the new program has to offer.

“My favourite takeaway was seeing parents' opinions and minds turn when it came to one of their kids going into an esports program. I think the opportunity for the parents to really get a grasp of everything that goes into the program and the world of esports played into that,” said Jax Grover, marketing assistant in the School of Creative Industries. “Overall, it was a great night.”

The Esports and Event Media Production diploma program is part of the college’s School of Creative Industries, which offers programs spanning all aspects of media, communication and design. With state-of-the-art technology, gear and facilities, students will graduate with a range of transferrable skills in this program focusing on practical hands-on learning directly related to the booming industry.