Faraz Barmpar and William Collis are two of the four co-founders of Oxygen Esports, the largest esports organization in New England. They are also Clark professors.
Together, the pair are teaching Advanced Topics in Esports through the Becker School of Design & Technology at Clark, and Barmpar hopes their journeys from gamers to team owners will show students that success in this industry is attainable.
“I think the biggest advantage isn’t that we are team owners — it’s that we’re also gamers who used to be pro players and pro coaches,” says Barmpar. “Students can see our progress and what we’ve done, and I think this makes them more excited and more passionate about gaming.”
Barmpar and Collis are teaching the course for the first time at Clark. It’s similar to classes they taught at the former Becker College.
“This course is for people who understand the industry dynamics, who the major publishers are, what the games are, and how the teams interact,” says Collis, who is the author of “The Book of Esports.” “They’re probably familiar with the different business models. We’re trying to help them take those baseline learnings and apply them to advanced situations.”
This entirely virtual course covers such topics as all-women esports and VR (virtual reality) esports, which Barmpar says is the future of the industry. Their methodology is hands-on, with opportunities for students to suggest topics they’d like to study. According to Barmpar, students have been eager to know more about crowdfunded esports versus developer-funded esports and the challenges design developers face in keeping games updated.
“No one has really ever developed educational rubrics for how to teach esports. This isn’t like math where you know you have to teach algebra,” says Collis. “Esports is a very ‘wild west’ space. And it’s also tricky because it’s a space where people care very passionately about the game.”
In December, Oxygen announced that it had joined forces with the Overwatch League’s Boston Uprising, and expanded into the Call of Duty League with the newly announced Boston Breach roster. The partnership allows Oxygen to compete in the most elite leagues in esports.
“Ultimately, it’s the equivalent of the NFL for the next generation of gamers,” says Collis. “This is the big local esports team now, and Clark has two people who are involved in it who want to help students talk through their esports ideas.”