University Of Nevada Las Vegas Launches An Esports Lab Aimed At Research And Innovation

Published: Aug 22, 2016 - Last Updated: Jan 17, 2023

The UNLV International Gaming Institute, a world-leader in gaming research, innovation, and executive education announced earlier this month that it’s launching an esports-focused course.

Esports: a significant pop culture phenomenon

Called the eSports Lab, the course will be a first of its kind at the university and will be a part of the next stages for the university’s current casino gaming innovation courses.

“Esports is the hottest topic in every board room on the Strip, particularly with respect to millennials,” said Robert Rippee, director of the Hospitality Lab and eSports Lab. “What better place to begin the journey to understand its relevance and application to the casino and hospitality industry than right here at UNLV?”

Compared to some other esports programs, which are focused on forming esports teams and competing in tournaments, the UNLV program is aiming at research and exploration of the competitive gaming market.

According to the organization’s website, the new esports course will enable students to:

  • Explore multiple facets of esports and produce presentations and business plans relevant to the casino industry.
  • Learn about the games and genres, synthesize information, and explore opportunities in big data related to gamer and fan behaviors in order to develop strategies for effectively targeting millennials.
  • Work to solve problems that exist in the field, such as how to effectively design competitive events and improve esports experience models.
  • Apply new and relevant technologies within the specialty, as well as develop intellectual property and other innovations related to the overall gaming experience.

From time to time, guest speakers, including game developers, tournament management companies, gaming executives, and others, will join the course to speak about the industry. Students will also be given the opportunity to attend and participate in various esports-related events.

The announcement makes it clear that the course is about studying the esports industry, its social aspects, the emerging popularity of esports betting sites, and how to approach the millennial demographic. With the growth of the industry and its global awareness, there will be plenty of new areas available for research and analysis.

Esports has been making its way into college waters for a while now

This is not the first time we’ve seen a college or university involving itself in esports.

Heroes of the Dorm, a collegiate event of the popular multiplayer online battle arena Heroes of the Storm, already carried out two successful tournaments since 2015. The tournament offered free college tuition for the winning team.

[show-table name=cta-alphadraft region=US] [show-table name=cta-betway region=ROW]

Chicago’s Robert Morris University and the University of Pikeville in Kentucky have also launched esports programs. RMU announced its esports program back in June 2014 and already has its varsity esports facility in the United States.

Pikeville launched its esports program in the fall of 2015.

Riot Games with its own school for League of Legends

On a different note, Riot Games, the developer of League of Legends, has its own program called uLoL (University League of Legends), which organizes events and tournaments for its popular product. The extreme success of the game is reflected in the amount of revenue it generates for the company — $1.6 billion in 2015, according to the research company SuperData.

Sean Haran, the company’s director of business development and publishing, spoke to Yahoo Esports about the importance of the uLoL program.

Haran pointed out that uLoL’s purpose is serving college players and communities, and that the program actually started with college clubs reaching out to Riot asking for support in making their tournaments more official and formal. As a result, the Campus Series was created, where clubs compete against each other for pride and glory.

Comparable to traditional college sports, where players are given the chance to form communities within their universities, uLoL serves as a platform where students can express themselves and do the exact same thing for esports.

With more than 300 clubs across the US, uLoL has proven to be a successful initiative. Not being focused on creating the most competitive league, the aim is to maintain authenticity and give college kids an opportunity to form communities within their campuses.

Image credit: Victoria Ditkovsky /

Dejan Zalik

Since: September 12, 2015

Dejan has been involved in gaming for over 10 years. Moving from classics like Diablo 2, Lineage 2, and Warcraft 3, he found his passion in Dota 2, which he’s been playing ever since. He also likes to keep up to date by reading and writing about whatever is happening in the industry.

See all articles from this author

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