Kevin He: Instructor, Esports Project Management, UC-Irvine - Work In Sports Podcast

Esports is more the just an opportunity for programmers and gamers, the business is broad and growing as Kevin He explains on today's edition of the Work In Sports podcast.

Hey Everybody, I’m Brian Clapp VP of Content and Engaged Learning for and this is the Work In Sports Podcast…

Back in 2003 when the book Moneyball was published by Michael Lewis, everyone I knew in the industry grabbed a copy and read it. 

Most of us were a bunch of knuckleheads who couldn’t tell you the Pulitzer Prize-winning books of the era but had all read Friday Night Lights, The Natural, Ball Four and the Boys of Winter.  

At this time though, Moneyball was all any of us could talk about. 

This was pre-Brad Pitt movie release - this was just a book that had been whispered about and we were all excited to get a copy of. What we read, changed our knowledge of baseball, but also formulated new methods of decision making. 

Ever since that day, I knew two things -- 1: analytics was going to be a thing 2: I always wanted to stay ahead of what is next.

I hammered it into my head - you have to keep seeking what is next because the world and the industry will not be static. 

The next big wave that was obvious and plain to see, it didn’t take a soothsayer, was social media. The growth, reach and the opportunity was obvious -- but in some parts, the sports world was still really slow to adapt to this change.

I left a really great prestigious job in part because I thought they were way too slow to see social and digital media as a necessity, not a luxury.

Well… I bring all this up to say -- I didn’t see Esports coming. Not only that...but I didn’t see the sports world adjusting to the phenomenon so quickly.../ and then not only that but I sure as heck didn’t see institutions of higher learning adjusting to the demand this quickly. 

Esports is a special case. And what may have seemed like a playground for computer programmers, animators, and gamers - is actually a huge business with multiple levels of employment opportunities far beyond programming.   

This is why we have on today’s guest Kevin He, Instructor for Esports Project Management t UC-Irvine…

Questions for Kevin He, instructor Esports Project Management UC-Irvine

1: In my experience – advanced education is often slow to respond to newly emerging trends. They tend to wait and see rather than set the trend in motion.

You’ve been in the Esports industry for around 5 years, and we’ll get into the details of all of that soon, but I’m curious how this opportunity came up for you to become an instructor in Esports Project Management at UC-Irvine – that’s a pretty forward-thinking decision by the university to see this need and do something about it – how did it come about for you?

2: Let’s go back a bit before we move forward… what is your personal history with Esports, was this something you always had an eye for? Something that developed over time? How did you find your niche on this side of the industry?

3: Your first big move into this industry after you graduated was in Community development. Explain this a little – I think this is an area where Esports really stands out in almost a grassroots way, building their audience in a very personal way, can you explain the role and importance of community in Esports?

4: Community is common ground amongst people, and I think the Esports world does a better job than most in the sports industry of building this sense of community.

As I looked through your bio, I kept seeing the word Tespa come up over and over…so being a good researcher that I am I looked it up on Google. I want you to explain it to all of us… but before that, I want to read the vision statement at Tespa to set the context --  “We believe in a world where gaming is celebrated by people of all ages, recognized as a force for good, and a catalyst for bringing people together.”

This should be the tagline for all of us in life!

So tell us specifically, what is Tespa, and what is your role in it?

5: For the last three years you’ve been part of this project, highly focused on the collegiate gaming world – why is this sector so important to the gaming industry?

6:  When you talk about esports and gamers, many people have an immediate reaction, form a mental picture in their head, or judge the person immediately.

What is the biggest misconception about gamers?

7: What about Esports as a viable career path – but what about the opportunities to work in the business of Esports? Are the opportunities growing and if so, how does someone best prepare for the growth surge? It’s not all coding jobs, right?

8: So let’s transition here – you’ve been in the industry for quite some time, you’re part of the project management team at Blizzard Entertainment one of the biggest names in Esports -- What do you look for when hiring or scouting the next generation of students for internships, contract roles, and jobs?

10: Kevin this is great I really appreciate your advice in this growing sector of the sports industry -- We’ll finish up with this -- Talking globally – I’ve read and researched in many places where the esports industry is expected to grow to a 1.4 billion dollar industry by 2020. That’s pretty amazing.

Put on your future hat - where are we with esports in 10 years? What kind of jobs are in demand, how big is the market? How many people are in the industry? Arenas?  What does it look like to you?

By Brian Clapp | November 20, 2019
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