[Editor’s Note: Please enjoy this guest blog post from Joshua Kell, the Chief Executive Officer of Esports Integration and Horizon AVL System Integration.  He will be presenting as part of our focus on esports at this week’s NCCE 2020 in Seattle!  You can see more about our esports programming here.]


Esports is taking the world by storm. Social media is flooded with updates and announcements: what esports teams are doing, schools introducing programs, along with a variety of esports startups such as software, leagues, and arenas. It’s an exciting time with a lot of noise centered on esports.

Does it sound overwhelming? Exciting? What direction is best for schools? Students? What direction is best for you? Why all of the hype? Is this just some sort of craze; a trend that will fade?

Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, gaming was part of the fabric of my childhood. Today, video games can be coupled with a stigma. Why? Is it fair? Is there a misunderstanding? What is the fascination for youth today? What are the benefits of video games and esports?

The gaming industry is one of the fastest growing industries globally. In fact, it generates over $150 billion in revenue (according to Newzoo in 2019). It creates thousands of jobs. Software developers and industry companies in the gaming and esports market are looking for talented individuals with skills in gaming and related fields. It’s an easy conclusion: esports is here to stay. What are we doing to develop a path for this next generation?

“Esports” is a buzz word that is often used as a detriment to the industry. The term “esports” is often tossed around as a sales pitch effort by those with limited knowledge and understanding. Schools and universities will often use “esports” as a buzzword to attract students. However, the school will not have an esports program in place; no curriculum, no league or team, no arena or space that fairly matches the reputation of the industry. The school will host a glorified “gaming club” in a classroom or media lab with a few modest consoles or desktop computers. Schools need to realize it’s a disappointment to students and the industry.

Today, the universities and colleges that “do it right’ and “do it big” are naturally attracting, recruiting, and enrolling more students with specific interests, skill sets, and talent. Professionally designed arenas and esports centers offer the “WOW” factor that impress and excite students, as they know the esports spaces provide a place of community on campus and school grounds. At the collegiate level, students interested in esports are across all academic disciplines, particularly those in engineering, computer science, math, science, pre-med, pre-law, and business.

At the K-12 level, schools that provide esports programs with esports spaces are better preparing their students for acceptance into college as higher education are now recruiting students with an esports understanding and background. In fact, many offer scholarships in this new highly competitive field.

Educators need to connect with this generation and better understand the opportunities that comes with the gaming and esports industry rather than remaining stuck on the stigma and idea that it’s simply all about “playing” video games.

Just like anything new, it takes time to understand. It took time for the education market to fully grasp the education value of CTE and STEM programs. Esports is no different. Esports and gaming serves student interest while also operating as the connecting piece to developing skill sets in areas of engineering, programming, analytics, business development, business management, IT, broadcast and media, marketing, graphic design, among others.

I recently read a post on LinkedIn from a COO of a predominate esports team about hiring. He shared that within 7 days, he received over 1000 applications. However, he stated that 90% were unqualified. For the younger generation, there’s passion and attraction to gaming and esports. The education market is starting to understand and recognize the potential of esports as a tool to prepare students for college and careers in this growing and competitive industry.

As a parent, I want to connect with my kids in their areas of interest and offer every opportunity to expose them to a range of potential careers. It’s important to ignite in kids a passion; to help them understand that they can link “what they love” to “what they do” professionally.

As a CEO of an audiovisual integration firm (Horizon AVL) and an esports development company (Esports Integration), I take this passion to heart. We design esports arenas and spaces, while helping with league selection and/or hardware specifications, along with the creation of curriculum that will develop necessary student skills in related fields.

Horizon AVL and Esports Integration are dedicated to helping develop a roadmap that will assist in navigating your school through the vast ocean of this industry. Working with over 100+ colleges and universities and countless high schools, we will design a unique esports space that fits your school’s needs. We will help launch a successful path for your esports program that is industry-focused and inspiring for your students.

Joshua Kell HeadshopAbout the Author: Joshua serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Esports Integration and Horizon AVL System Integration. Joshua designed countless large venue and arena systems, video broadcast studios, and projection / LED wall video displays with precision and expertise. His vast experiences span 15 years in the industry.

Joshua’s notable work was mentioned or featured in ProSound News Magazine, Front of House Magazine (FOH), and Worship AVL Magazine, Projection Lights and Stage News, and Commercial Integrator.

Joshua leads Horizon AVL System Integration with industry rewards and recognition such as earning Contractor of the Year and Commercial Top Partner with Presonus. The recent completion of Temple University’s Broadcast & News set with an integrated direct view LED wall, was featured in PLSN Magazine. Joshua created set designs for manufacturers at NAMM.

Joshua is part of the 40 under 40 industry influencers for Commercial Integrator for his role in esports for education. He was also recognized by NSCA as business partner of the year for his differentiating strategies for esports in the audio visual industry.

Joshua is the education ambassador for Acer America and the esports program. He was featured in an education piece in USA Today as he leads the charge with esports and the development of the industry.

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