UCI hiring director to promote ‘social justice’ in ‘Esports’

The University of California-Irvine Esports program is looking to hire a high-ranking administrator to help promote “social justice” in the competitive gaming industry. 

The Director of Esports will assume a post in the school’s Esports program, which is housed in the UCI Student Center and gives “student-athletes” tuition scholarships in exchange for competing in League of Legends or Overwatch tournaments. 

One of the office’s main aims is to promote diversity and inclusion in the gaming industry. To that end, the new director will be tasked with “addressing social justice issues related to gaming and Esports” during their tenure with the organization. 

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Though the job advertisement is brief, the Esports website includes a 2017-2018 Inclusivity Plan, which claims that the lack of women and minorities in the competitive gaming industry is likely due to the “toxicity of the esports community culture.” 

“To date, there are few coordinated and institutionalized efforts to impactfully and intentionally address this issue,” the plan laments, adding that UC Irvine has an “obligation” to address this issue. 

Going forward, the plan indicates that it will continue to “attract a diverse applicant pool” as well as incorporate questions about diversity and inclusion into the interview process. Once recruited, moreover, all student-athletes are required to undergo “diversity and inclusion” trainings.

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Constance Steinkuehler Squire, a UCI professor who chairs the Esports diversity initiatives, told Campus Reform that “UCI is very committed to (and very proud of) its campus diversity and inclusion,” adding that “esports at UCI must meet those same standards.” 

“We’re working on long-term substantive change,” Squire added. “This means not only demanding an inclusive and positive environment among the esports community on campus but also working actively on the long-term pipeline issues.”

In a statement to Campus Reform, UCI spokesman Tom Vasich defended the new position, noting that gaming is “huge” on college campuses.

“Most students are ardent gamers, and the esports arena provides them access to one of the finest gaming environments in the world,” he continued. “Hundreds of colleges nationwide have esports teams. Ours is one of the best in the country, and it requires a full-time staff position to manage both the team and the esports arena.” 

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As Campus Reform has reported, social justice in video-games is an emerging topic of research inquiry within academia. 

Seattle University professor Christopher Paul, for instance, recently published a book exploring “The Toxic Meritocracy of Video Games,” while a book slated for publication in November 2018, titled “Woke Gaming,” plans to explore “digital challenges to oppression and injustice.” 

Once hired, the new UCI Esports director will earn up to $85,750 per year. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen