IGI Esports Lab: A Class with Real-world Application

Photos by: Yzzi Ocampo, Official Photographer, UNLV 8-bit Esports Club

Mar. 28, 2018
Written by: Nicole Schultz, Global Gaming Capital Coordinator, International Gaming Institute
At the beginning of March 2018, UNLV International Gaming Institute (IGI) played a key role in launching Mountain West Conference’s inaugural “Esports Showdown.”
For those who are unfamiliar with the term, esports can briefly be described as competitive video gaming, and the sport has recently surged in popularity as more casinos and other venues recognize esports’ appeal to millennials and its potential for profits.
In previous years, UNLV IGI has shown initiative by taking the lead on all things esports; in 2016, IGI began offering the first-ever academic course and lab focused on integrating esports into Las Vegas-style resorts. Taught every fall semester by the Robert Rippee, Esports Lab incorporates teamwork, group projects, lectures, and esports-industry mentors to provide students all the tools they need to create business plans for bringing esports to Vegas.
The idea of a Mountain West Esports Showdown began in December 2017 when IGI’s own Robert Rippee—Director of IGI’s Esports Lab—was invited to give an Esports 101 lecture to Mountain West's executive leadership.
Mountain West was intrigued by Rippee’s lecture, and a committee to organize the first ever Esports Showdown was formed. On Saturday, March 10, 2018, UNLV’s 8-bit Esports club faced off against Boise State in three popular esports games: Overwatch, League of Legends, and Rocket League.
8-bit Esports brought home a win for UNLV, and the Showdown was considered a success.
Unsurprisingly, many Showdown competitors are alumni of Robert Rippee’s Esports Lab class—including Julian Lugod and Tyler Tsunezumi. When asked about Esports Lab and the Showdown, Lugod—Overwatch team captain—explained, “Esports Lab is what started the whole tournament idea. The class brought esports front and center and made casinos think of competitive video gaming a bit more seriously.”
Esports Lab students span the entire spectrum of majors—from engineering and computer science to business and communications. It’s a class designed for students from all esports backgrounds—experts and those who are new and curious to learn more.
If you’re thinking about taking the class, take a lesson from League of Legends team captain and former student Tyler Tsunezumi: "dive in and commit to the culture” because esports isn’t something that Vegas is planning to say goodbye to anytime soon.
For more information and on how to enroll in the Esports Lab class, please contact Robert Rippee.