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University of York and ESL announce world-first partnership in teaching and research of esports

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Hans Oelschlägel
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The University of York, one of the top universities in the UK, and ESL are today announcing a world-first collaboration to make industry-aligned teaching and research for esports a reality. Recognising the potential of esports, UK Interactive Entertainment (Ukie) has highlighted the importance of growing the UK as an esports hub, including the need to develop UK-based, highly skilled talent and to foster technological innovation.

This unique partnership will allow the University of York to be on the forefront of UK-based teaching and research, tailored to to the ever-growing esports industry. The collaboration includes Digital Creativity Labs, an £18 million EPSRC/AHRC/Innovate UK-funded research initiative focusing on the convergence of digital games and interactive media and one of the biggest games research labs in the world; the University of York's Department of Theatre, Film and Television.

Graduates will benefit by obtaining one of the top three Film and TV Production degrees in the country and a unique, highly interdisciplinary degree in Interactive Media; and the Department of Computer Science, one of the highest ranked in the UK.

The collaboration has three key aims:

  • Teaching - ESL will hold regular masterclasses with University of York students, including workshops and taster days. The University of York is committed to aligning its teaching offerings with the needs of the industry, while also offering BSc & MSc dissertations on esports. ESL and the University of York are co-designing an elective module on esports content production as a third year, credit-bearing module, aiming to launch Autumn 2018.
  • Research - Alongside a substantial investment by DC Labs in research into future innovations in the esports industry, the collaboration will see PhD internships take place through the Intelligent Games and Game Intelligence PhD programme and Digital Creativity Labs. Pioneering esports research already explored by DC Labs investigates areas including AI, human-computer interaction, interactive storytelling, data visualisation, game analytics, behavioural psychology and more.
  • Careers - ESL internships will provide hands-on experience for outstanding undergraduate students, while industry placements will be available for selected PhD students.

“We’re incredibly excited to be entering into a partnership with the University of York to help develop fresh new esports talent,” said James Dean, Managing Director of ESL UK. “We’ve always been committed to creating opportunities for more people to enter the industry and now, with the help of the University of York, we’re looking forward to being able to help make sure the future is even brighter and better than it is now.”

“High growth rates have seen games overtake film in terms of market size. Esports shows similarly spectacular growth. Our collaboration with ESL provides us with an exceptional opportunity to pioneer highly relevant, impact-driven research in this area”, said Peter Cowling, Director of the Digital Creativity Labs at York and Professor of Computer Science. “Esports lies at the convergence of two of our academic programmes,  Film and TV Production and Interactive Media”, adds Professor Andrew Higson, Head of the Department of Theatre, Film and TV at the University of York. “Partnering with ESL is an exceptional opportunity for us to develop teaching about esports and career paths for our students in this rapidly growing industry.”