Esports production company Skillshot Media and Atlanta-based esports organisation Ghost Gaming have announced a partnership with Georgia’s Department of Economic Development and the Georgia Film Academy.
Together with founding partner universities across Georgia, the parties have launched the Georgia Esports League (GEL), an esports initiative that includes curriculum pathways and workforce development.
The Georgia Esports League will be open to all two-year and four-year colleges in Georgia, initially starting with Rocket League. Other esports titles are also expected to be integrated in the future.
Skillshot claims the league is the US’ first comprehensive statewide initiative combining esports competition, curriculum and workforce development.
Running alongside GEL’s competitive element, Skillshot Media CEO Todd Harris told Esports Insider that the company will offer curriculum pathways to students at universities partnered with the Georgia Film Academy.
As an industry partner of the Georgia Film Academy, affiliated universities can offer students accredited classes run by Skillshot in subjects ranging from shoutcasting to event production.
Students will also be involved in every aspect of the production of the GEL Finals, which will be produced and live-streamed by Skillshot out of its Atlanta esports campus.
The curriculum pathways build on a similar Georgia scheme for the Film and TV industries, Harris explained. Georgia is known for hosting major film and TV productions thanks to favourable tax incentives and the state’s efforts to develop workforces in those industries.
Similarly, Georgia’s Department of Economic Development wants to kickstart infrastructure and workforce development in the gaming and esports industries. Georgia is offering the same tax incentives to qualifying esports companies as it offers to TV and film companies.
Through these tax incentives and GEL’s workforce development initiatives, the state is looking to position itself as an attractive place to host esports events and companies.
“Esports events are very expensive to run,” Harris said, outlining Georgia’s appeal to tournament organisers. “So if you have both a tax incentive, and if you have local labourers — you’re not having to fly [operations teams] in as much at a big cost — it provides a model.
“I’m excited not only for our region, but I think other regions can look and come up with twists that make it more sustainable in their market for economic development.”
Harris, who is also the CEO of Ghost Gaming, said the organisation is also on board to assist GEL with programme development, player development and offer its expertise. In return, Ghost stands to benefit from a larger player and employee talent pool.
The announcement comes amidst an uptick of esports activity across the state. In May Skillshot, EsportsU, and the Collegiate Sports Management Group produced the Collegiate Esports Commissioner’s Cup (CECC), which Skillshot claims delivered a $1.7m (~£1.4m) local economic impact.
Riot Games’ 2022 League of Legends Worlds Semifinals will also come to State Farm Arena in Atlanta in October, and in November the state will host esports and gaming festival Dreamhack Atlanta.