Spectators watch an e-sports event in an auditorium.

Since the first video game tournaments held 20 years ago, e-sports has expanded to a large – and rapidly growing – industry. Hundreds of thousands of people watch live streams of competitions or attend events in which they watch virtual games, such as the League of Legends event shown above. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Mihaylo Fully-Employed MBA (FEMBA) alumnus Mark Deppe ’15 has founded an innovative e-sports program at UC Irvine, the first such program at any public research university in the U.S. Deppe discusses his inspiration and vision and shares advice.

Mihaylo FEMBA alumnus Mark Deppe’15 developed an innovative concept in his strategic management capstone course last year. Under the direction of Mihaylo Management Lecturer Jack Mixner, Deppe was tasked with completing a competitive analysis and proposing recommendations for a given industry.

Mihaylo College FEMBA grad Mark Deppe has started an e-sports program at UC Irvine.

MIhaylo FEMBA alumnus Mark Deppe ’15 hopes the e-sports program he developed will serve as a model for other universities.

“I chose to do a strategic analysis of the video game industry,” he said. “I saw competitive gaming in higher education as an emerging market and found ways to fill the associated institutional voids. Using the experience I had with in-class presentations, I was able to successfully pitch my concept to the UC Irvine’s chancellor’s cabinet.”

Deppe strongly believed in applying his MBA assignments to practical, rather than theoretical, issues, which prompted him to develop a business plan for his current employer while leveraging the feedback of others in developing solutions. “Pitch your ideas to friends and family, pitch ideas as much as you can,” he says. “The more feedback you get, the better prepared you’ll be to share them with people who can help make them happen.”

The e-sports program, featuring virtual multiplayer video game contests, will launch this fall in an arena equipped with high-end gaming PCs, a competition stage and live webcasting facilities. “We have four main focuses with the program: Elite competition, connecting with research and academics, supporting the massive gaming community, and creating live and online entertainment,” says Deppe. “This is the next step for collegiate e-sports and I hope it will pave the way for other schools to follow.”

Deppe views his FEMBA coursework as invaluable to his personal development. “I loved everything I got out of my FEMBA experience,” he says. “I loved the team environment, the pace of the coursework, the schedule, the faculty and all the skills I gained over three years.”

For more on Mihaylo’s FEMBA program and other graduate studies, visit Mihaylo MBA and Graduate Programs online or at SGMH 4210.

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