It’s a billion-dollar-plus industry that’s really starting to “power up” in San Diego.
Electronic sports – or Esports — programs are popping up at local high schools, universities and even the YMCA.
On Monday, the Mission Valley YMCA became the first YMCA in San Diego County to launch an Esports program.
“Esports is a competitive environment,” said Associate Executive Director Jason Milosh. “So it’s very similar to youth basketball or youth soccer that the Y runs, right? Only -- it’s video games.”
Get San Diego local news, weather forecasts, sports and lifestyle stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC San Diego newsletters.
The Y collaborated with the North American Scholastic Esports Federation (NASEF) to develop the program. Milosh said it focuses on healthy competition rather than rivalry.
“There is some battling going on, but in a fun way with cartoon characters,” he said. “We have practices, and the coaches help kids understand strategies, develop skills.”
Participants also learn about the various career paths available in Esports.
“The college scene is becoming ripe with it, and there are scholarships to learn game design, how to create games and how to manage the gaming business,” Milosh said.
In October, San Diego State University began offering an online professional certificate in the Business of Esports and UC San Diego recently opened the Triton Esports Center.
UCSD teamed up with several corporate sponsors to outfit the facility with the latest and greatest gaming technology and make it accessible to all students. The university is also offering several Esports scholarships.
UCSD Junior Sam Ivezich received a $1,500 scholarship for Esports.
“I know that if I wanted to go into Esports or gaming, there would be a career waiting for me, just because of all the industry help and training and the resources that I’ve had available here at UCSD,” Ivezich said.
Training and resources are now being made available to even the youngest gamers.
The Mission Valley YMCA Esports program is starting off virtual, but its goal is to eventually create a space similar to the one at UC San Diego. To learn more about the program, click here.