The University of Michigan will use a $4 million gift to establish a new competitive video gaming minor at the university. The new program will help students get ready for a career in the esports industry.
The gift is from Robert Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, the video game company best known for iconic franchises including “Call of Duty,” “Candy Crush” and “World of Warcraft.”
The new minor in esports — organized video game competitions played for spectators — is slated to be up and running by 2022. The donation will fund a professor to lead the development of the program, which will combine research and instruction in computer science, sports management and user experience.
“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, who studied art history at U-M in the 1980s, said in a statement. “Unlike traditional sports, esports is truly a participant sport that anyone can play and enjoy.”
The esports industry is booming. The fan base is expected to include nearly 729 million people by the end of 2021, a 10% increase from 2020, according to NewZoo, a gaming analytics company. Activision Blizzard boasts nearly 400 million gamers around the world.