New “Esports & Gaming Administration” minor at Elmira College

ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – For the first time, Elmira College is offering a new minor called “Esports & Gaming Administration.” The school hopes to build on the success of its Esports Program which started in 2019.

“This program is very exciting,” said Dr. Alison Wolfe, the Business & Economics Chair at Elmira College. “First, let me just say the industry is booming. In 2020, it was $175 billion industry. Let’s look ahead. Fortune Business Insights state this industry is projected to grow $665 billion by 2030. So, there’s job opportunities. We feel it’s very important for our students to learn about esports and gaming.”

“They’re going to learn about how games made. They will also learn and understand the go-to-market, distribution and logistics process of how to get games to the marketplace. They will also learn how to manage an esports team, how to manage an esports lounge. Right now, worldwide there are over 3 billion gamers. Most people think of young people but impacts all ages and all populations. So again, a very booming industry Elmira College is very excited to be a part of it,” said Dr. Wolfe.

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“This is a thriving industry, and this is what students want to be part of. It also pairs so well with our liberal arts education. We have a quality liberal arts education. I could be an Art major ad pair with esports and gaming. I could be a Business Administration major and pair this minor. I could be a Media Studies and Communications major and pair with this minor. It’s really exciting that we’re offering this as an opportunity for our students and they are so excited about it,” Dr. Wolfe added.

The school’s Esports Athletic Program is now in its 5th year. In the Fall of 2022, the team won its first Championship in the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference playing the first-person shooter Call of Duty. The team included Colin Conklin, class of ’23. Andrew Warner, class of ’24, Joel Pavey and Cole Tucker, both class of ’25. Head Coach Anthony Affissio was in his second full season when the Soaring Eagles brought home the title.

“It’s funny because I come from traditional sports,” Affissio said. “So, I’m a hockey player. I played hockey ever since I was six years old. For most of my adult life, I’ve coached youth hockey or hockey on some level. I bring that same passion, competitiveness, everything that I learned from that, I bring here.”

“In the beginning, maybe it was a little bit, the kids were a little taken aback, but I like to get across to them that we take this as seriously as any of our other sports on campus,” Affissio added. “You’re a student-athlete when you’re part of this program. Don’t think that you’re not. Yes, maybe it’s not a traditional sport. It’s a little new. It’s a little unknown. With anything like that comes, you know, people not being able to understand exactly what we’re doing here. But it’s the same translatable skills. We’re not as physical, but brain power, as far as athletics is concerned. It’s communication. It’s teamwork. It’s making decisions under pressure, all that kind of stuff that goes into all the other programs as well. A lot of our team takes that with them when they leave here and that’s one of the greatest things as a coach,” Affissio said.

This year, Affissio is leading a team of 39 student-athletes. 33 men and 6 women. They are competing in 11 different game titles, including Call of Duty, Fortnite, Overwatch, League of Legends, Valorant, NBA2K, FIFA, Madden and Super Smash Bros. Freshman Tomas Ferguson is currently focusing on Rocket League.

“It’s like any sport, you kind of have to master your sport and you have to train every day and you have to have good chemistry with your teammates. So, for us when we practice our game we have to play every other day, just try to keep together and have good communication,” Ferguson said.

“How would you describe what it feels like to compete at this level” asked 18 News reporter Nick Dubina.

“It feels really cool,” said senior Lindsey Smith. “I feel like it’s a really basic like definition of it, but to tell my brother, like oh yeah, I play on a college team for this game that you also play, it adds like a feeling of surrealism, maybe if that’s the right word. It’s kind of cool. This is a real thing. I’m in this new community that’s up and coming, and I tell my students at school, yeah, I played this game at a college level. It’s something that you can do someday, too,” Smith added.

“I’m so excited that gaming has become a professional endeavor now,” said freshman Eli Kester. “The people that were treated mostly as outcasts in the past, now have a way to express themselves and really get into the gaming.”

“I couldn’t be more excited that Elmira College has kind of branched off into doing Esports academically,” said Coach Affissio. “As the Coach of the team, we definitely hope to have some sort of collaboration moving forward. We’re super excited about it to see that it’s starting to get into the academic side, the professional side, where students can learn how to do graphic design, broadcasting, maybe just even become actual professional Esports players, and seeing that gap being bridged is immensely exciting for us.”

“It’s funny because I was just telling one of my players, I’m almost 40 years old. So, I’m a little bit of an older dog in the Esports game,” Affissio added. A lot of my fellow coaches are in their mid 20s, early 30s. Ever since I was a kid I was a nerd when I was younger, in addition to being an athlete. It wasn’t as cool to admit you were a nerd back when I was in high school. I played Dungeons & Dragons, you know, board games, all that kind of stuff, but I only would ever tell people play hockey. Now. It’s cool to be a nerd. Celebrities are, you know, playing D&D and things like that. Jon Stewart plays D&D regularly. So, to see that, for us has been amazing. It’s just really fun to see. It’s fun to see that we get traditional Esports players in here that want to only do gaming and take that seriously. Then we get a bevy of dual sport athletes as well. Seeing those people interact with each other that maybe you never would have previously, is one of the greatest things to see with a program like this.”

Watch the Elmira Esports team play on Twitch here.

Follow the Elmira Esports team on Facebook here.

You can learn more about the “Esports & Gaming Administration” minor here.

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