By Dmitriy Kizhikin, For The Miami Student

A few weeks ago, Miami University approved a new course for this fall — IMS 390 E, a special topics course in interactive media studies focused on eSports.

Stelanie Tsirlis, Miami senior and president of the eSports club, pitched her dream idea to the department at the beginning of the school year. 

Being involved with electronic sports, or eSports, Tsirlis felt that a class on the subject would be the most impactful way to show the general population at Miami that eSports is a real thing.

After bringing up the idea with Glenn Platt, director of interactive media studies, the idea was given a preliminary green-light, given that it went through the standard system of approval that all classes must go through.

“The nice thing about the IMS department is that there is a class meant for special topics, like this,” said Phill Alexander, a professor of professional writing. “It just needs to be accepted by Platt, unlike other departments.”

Alexander will be helping Tsirlis co-teach the course in the fall 2016 semester. This will also help bring light and progress to something he has been developing — a gaming degree within the IMS department.

“I can name 10 or 11 universities with undergrad programs in gaming already,” said Alexander. “I think it’s time Miami has something along the same lines, and this is a big step forward.”

Tsirlis and Alexander are currently developing the curriculum for the eSports course, which they envision as a serious class that involves the eSports community as a whole.

“I’ve seen a lot of courses on how to be good at the game, but nothing on the culture or the players and impact on the people,” said Tsirlis

On the popular website, Reddit, there was huge discussion among the eSports community about how to run the class and what could be taught, and many of those ideas are being adapted to the class.

Tsirlis wants to give back to the online community by streaming parts of the class, or posting resources and topics that are discussed in the course back onto Reddit.  The teaching duo also plans to Skype with impactful members of the community for Q&As and take class trips to events hosted by big-name companies like Blizzard Entertainment or Riot Games.

First-year Robbie Ritchie plans to take the course next semester.  He said he loves eSports and actively participates in the eSports clubs and events on and off campus.

“It would be cool to learn about [eSports] from a more technical perspective,” Ritchie said.

Ritchie supports a more hands-on approach to the course that would include days to just sit around and play games.

“If you try to make the course too traditional and serious, it’ll take away from the learning,” Ritchie said.  “It is still a game-based industry, and games are meant to be fun and impactful.”

Despite still being in the beginning stage of development, Tsirlis has high hopes for the course, the impact it will have on the eSports community and changing Miami’s view of eSports.

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