“Georgia is rapidly becoming a global epicenter for both entertainment and technology, and the Esports and videogaming industry are at the nexus of these new economies,” said Jeffrey Stepakoff, executive director of the GFA. “Today, we begin to train Georgians for these exciting high demand careers in Esports and, from a workforce perspective, we start to shape a new industry for our state.”
GSU’s Creative Media Industries Institute (CMII) will house this unprecedented public/private partnership, including online and in-person classes.
"Videogames are now the largest entertainment industry in terms of both revenue and popularity", said Todd Harris, CEO of esports solution company Skillshot Media. "In Georgia, gaming and esports had an economic impact of over $830 million last year and the goal with this new program is providing a well-trained Georgia workforce for this rapidly growing industry."
“Collaborative partnerships like this pilot program between the Georgia Film Academy, Skillshot Media and Georgia State University have been critical to developing the state’s unrivaled gaming software development talent pipeline,” said Deputy Commissioner of Global Commerce Scott McMurray, Georgia Department of Economic Development. “We look forward to seeing the opportunities this program creates for students across Georgia and for our world-class digital and esports recruitment team who work every day to attract prospective companies to the esports capital of the nation.”
GFA plans to expand Esports training beyond the introductory pilot program to offer specialty courses as well as opportunities for coveted industry internships across the state. As the program and coursework grows, the GFA hopes to expand industry hubs and opportunities for all universities and colleges in the state system.
“We’ve seen first-hand the value of GFA’s film production certification in providing jobs for Georgians,” said Stepakoff. “The intent of this new program is to provide an Esports certification complete with the opportunity to glean real-world experience through internships. The GFA will ensure that our new programs, like our current film production courses, are affordable, accessible, lead to jobs, and provide great value for Georgians.”
Broadly regarded as the Esports capital of the nation, the City of Atlanta annually hosts more than 39,000 gamers and Esports enthusiasts each November for the world’s largest digital festival – DreamHack. The GDEcD estimates that the state will have nearly 12,000 direct and indirect jobs in digital entertainment this year, with an estimated economic impact of $550 million.
Georgia is home to three different professional franchised Esports teams, including the Atlanta Reign (Overwatch League), Hawks Talon GC (NBA 2K League) and the Atlanta FaZe (Call of Duty League). The state also boasts three varsity college Esports teams: Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), Georgia State University (GSU) and Georgia Southern University (Georgia Southern). Georgia was among the first five states in the nation to recognize Esports as an official competitive high school sport. There are now over 100 high schools in the state undergoing competitive Esports.