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Esports research and practice will collide in October at UCI’s first Esports Conference. ESC will feature keynotes from top names in the domain, cutting-edge R&D presentations, a collegiate esports match in the UCI Esports arena, and a public festival with vendor booths set up in an open-air, on-campus terrace.

“We’re excited to launch ESC on our sunny UCI campus,” says Informatics Professor Constance Steinkuehler. “The goal is to coalesce the latest research findings on all aspects of esports, from competing teams to spectating fans, and to connect it with professional industry and collegiate expertise.”

ESC welcomes submissions on a wide variety of esports topics, including game and team dynamics, data analytics, community and culture, campus and collegiate programming, fandom behavior and inclusion and diversity. Submissions are due online by June 1, 2018, and registration information is available here.

“The UCI Esports Conference is an exciting opportunity to take a close look at the emerging world of esports,” says Mark Deppe, acting director of UCI Esports. “Bringing scholars, industry and collegiate leaders together is an important step in helping esports grow in a healthy, positive direction.”

Confirmed speakers for the conference include Magy Seif El-Nasr, Northeastern University associate professor of media and design; Chris Kluwe, a former NFL player and esports advocate; and leaders from Blizzard Entertainment.

Informatics Professors Constance Steinkuehler and Kurt Squire are helping organize UCI’s first Esports Research Conference.

According to Steinkeuhler, who helped launch the Orange County High School Esports League, “it’s not just the esports market that’s booming.” Academic research and the collegiate competitive scene are also thriving, and Steinkeuhler believes that “cross-pollination of research and development will catalyze the field.” This event is one of the many ways in which Steinkeuhler is positioning UCI to be a game-changer in esports.

— Shani Murray