November 1, 2023

Michael Stevens, Esports correspondent and  TV 9&10 meteorologistEsports correspondent Michael Stevens

By offering new credentials in Esports, NMC, Ferris State University and a handful of others now stand where giant, influential powerhouses like the NFL and NBA stood 70 to 100 years ago.

That’s what Michael Stevens (right), Esports correspondent and meteorologist for TV 9&10 thinks. With eight years of experience in the still-fledgling Esports field, he’s in a better position to know than almost anyone else in northern Michigan. And as NMC prepares to launch its Esports Management Certificate, which feeds into a business associate degree or a bachelor’s degree at Ferris, Stevens believes the enrollment will follow.

“We continue to see programs like NMC and Ferris run with it, making examples for colleges to follow,” said Stevens. “Michigan has a Mecca of great collegiate Esports programs.”

NMC started offering varsity Esports in 2021. That led to the creation of the certificate. Careers in Esports include coaching, event casting and streaming, event security, marketing, management, content creation and design, and more. None of those jobs existed even in 2008, when STevens graduated from college with a meteorology degree.

“Things have really changed,” said Stevens, 37, whose gaming handle is Flake of Wrath. “My job now is weather man and video games.”

Stevens forged that second career path due to his love of gaming, which dates to high school. He started streaming in 2015. He recruited four students who won a $4.5 million prize in the Fortnite world cup in 2019. At 9&10, he created a show, the OneUp XP Show.

“There was never a career path in video games, otherwise I would have probably pursued that,” said Stevens. “I made it my job.”

What NMC’s certificate will do is create that career path for students like he was. Professional playing opportunities will be reserved for elite players. But a wide range of careers will develop around them, just like it has around football, basketball, hockey, soccer and others.

“One thing that’s super special about esports is you’re getting the first generation of kids who are pros, and now they’re stepping out and doing the education,” Stevens said.

NMC is developing five new courses for the certificate. Those plus three existing classes in public speaking, management and digital imaging constitute the certificate.

“So many potential students or current students are gamers. This will be a different path for them, to take something they love doing and make it into a career.”