Interview with Jack Harrison, Assistant Director of Esports at CapitolSeptember 13, 2021
It’s fun, it’s flashy, and it’s new. It’s a high-speed, high-skill activity that’s taking colleges by storm and creating a new breed of fierce athletes. If you aren’t already familiar with the heart-pounding rush of this rapidly-growing industry, you will be soon. Welcome to the world of competitive esports.
Capitol recently dipped its feet into this wildly popular and highly lucrative sport, and Assistant Director of Esports and Competitive Activities, Jack Harrison, sat down for a Q+A with Capitology blog to discuss why this is one of the hottest industries to be part of right now.
Q: When did the esports industry really begin to take off?
While gaming tournaments have been around since the 70s, what really caused modern esports to take off was the ability to stream gameplay. One of the biggest things contributing to the growth of esports right now is the streaming and content creation aspect because literally anyone can just pick it up and start doing it. It’s very accessible, so it has quickly become a huge thing.
Q: What else is involved in esports besides just playing and streaming?
You learn a lot about personal branding while you’re part of esports. There are a lot of parts that are background/support roles such as social media people. That side of the industry is getting bigger all the time, and having a solid understanding of the industry is important for those types of roles.
There are also other supportive roles that are coming out, such as training software development etc. There are support staff for pro teams–individual team managers, social media coordinators and more. Plus, big teams have coaches, shareholders, even lawyers. Pretty much anything that you’d expect from a traditional sports team is true of an esports team. Asking for an esports program to be implemented at a university isn’t like asking for a football team, it’s like asking for a whole athletics department.
Q: Which games are the most promising/lucrative to compete with?
If you want to make a lot of money, Dota 2 has the biggest prize pool. Fortnite also has a huge prize pool. Another huge thing that’s growing is mobile gaming, although it hasn’t caught on as much in the US yet. Teams find you faster than you find them. Recruitment for these games is big and people sign with a team around ages 17-20.
Q: What would you tell a parent who is hesitant to support their student’s Esports education? Why should people feel confident enough to pursue this either as a college major or extracurricular activity?
Esports is a lot more than just playing games. Esports management, one of the new degree options here at Capitol, has a core in business. It also teaches computer science, coding, and technical skills. It even teaches math! Majoring in esports management is very similar to majoring in business. Esports management IS business management, just in a more modern context.
Q: What will Capitol’s competitive esports team play?
Right now, we have student interest in some of the official NACE-supported games, including Rocket League, Apex Legends, and Valorant, among others. We’ll compete in those, as well as have plenty of non-competitive opportunities to play games for those who want to practice their skills in a more casual environment. Right now we’re just waiting for the esports lab to finish being set up, and then we’ll be ready to roll.
Q: Will students have opportunities to get involved in the various other esports roles you discussed earlier, such as team management, streaming, etc.?
Yes! We’ve already gauged interest for support roles and gotten a lot of enthusiasm. We currently have a handful of students moderating our esports Discord channel, and they are doing a great job with that. They really hit the ground running and have taken ownership of the program, getting more people interested and organizing unofficial practice sessions. Once the lab is set up and we really start playing, there will be opportunities for students to try more non-competitive roles.
Q: What is your personal favorite game to play or compete with?
Super Smash Bros. Melee, ‘cause it’s sick! It is a very dynamic game and every single level is different. Everyone expresses themselves while playing and that is part of what makes it so dynamic. You can tell someone’s personality by the way they play Melee. It’s the “old” Smash Bros. game, but it’s the one that feels like it has the most personality and it’s the most smooth and fluid.
Q. Do you have any advice for people who may be interested in becoming involved in Esports?
Reach out to me! Email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about the program and get your questions answered. We also have our own Instagram page, where we’ll be posting team updates, announcements and general fun stuff. I suggest following that page if you’re interested in Capitol Tech esports.