Morris Brown College promotes esports opportunities for HBCU students with innovation technology lab

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Morris Brown College is advancing the field of opportunity for HBCUs with its mission to make esports a real career path for its students. The school recently announced the newest addition to its educational transformation space, the Innovation Technology Lab, a partnership with Blaze Fire Games. The lab will allow students to develop and design video games and more in the spring of 2023 when the space opens.

“Everyone is excited. We believe this addition is starting a new path for Morris – number one, providing not only access to new and innovative things, but giving our students a path to complete their degrees,” said Dr. Louis Graham, dean of academic affairs, told the HBCU Times: “One of the things we’re seeing is that this is just a start. We hope to wrap this up with a degree program within another year.”

Pushing HBCUs into the esports era

Morris Brown is leading the way in offering a concentration and performance certificate in esports. The course requires 24 credit hours and prepares youth for non-traditional sports careers in the ever-evolving gaming space.

“There are a lot of students who want to get involved in esports, but not necessarily from a competitive standpoint,” esports strategist Bennett Newsome told EdTech Magazine. “They love to watch esports or they love to play games, and they just want to be involved in that community.”

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The new lab will house 42 machines built by Power GPU, a company that builds custom gaming PCs to create an enhanced and personalized gaming experience. Ten of the new devices will be optimized for the university’s esports competition team, while the other 32 devices are for gaming club and general recreational use on campus. The investment amount: Between $300,000 and $400,000, indicating the school’s deep commitment to the thriving esports industry.

Its partner, Blaze Fire Games, is a licensed digital content provider that harnesses various creative talents and skills around the world with a focus on diversity.

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Morris Brown has come a long way since 2002 when he lost his accreditation. The school reformed and received reaccreditation approval in April 2021. The school now understands that promoting opportunities in niche industries like esports is key to differentiating itself from HBCU schools.

The university announced a bachelor’s degree in global business with a concentration in esports performance in 2021 to fill a void in the Atlanta esports community.

Now Morris Brown is poised to maintain the pathways he has created and another conduit for the younger generations who are even more culturally embedded in the new world of gaming. The school received a $160,000 grant from Pharoah’s Conclave, an esports company, in 2021. That finding created the Ronald Floyd Thomas Center for esports and innovation located at the university.

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The school also plans to provide an esports certification program to connect with high school juniors and seniors in Atlanta, where they can earn up to 24 college credits. Morris Brown is feeling the gains from the athletic upswing of HBCU profiles in recent years, translating that momentum into esports.

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