Profile: Kevin O’Brien, DePaul University Esports

Kevin O’Brien, Executive Director, for the Esports Student Leadership Board at DePaul University, talks about his passion for esports.

Kevin O’Brien
credit: Kevin O’Brien

What motivated you to lead the esports movement at DePaul University?

When I decided to go to DePaul University after leaving the hospitality industry, I knew one thing was for sure – I wanted to start my own company. I have always had a passion for finance and seeing the underlying potential of industries. I love reading earnings reports for companies as they are still trying to be at the forefront of the next best thing. However, there was one word I kept hearing, and that was esports.

I decided to dive a little further into what this esports industry was all about. Once I started reading, I got hooked right from the beginning. The video game industry has always been robust and has continued to grow. The esports industry has also been there, but now experiencing monetization and more significant opportunities.

Everyone is talking about the cord-cutting phenomenon, but what about the generation that has never had cable? What are they doing, what are they watching, and where are their interests? Video games. I grew up as a millennial and grew into technology and video games – it was something we had to learn to adapt. The next generation has grown up with technology; they are more advanced and can process between multiple mediums at one time.

I see vast potential in the next generation of competitive sport, social media, and entertainment revolving around gaming and esports. We are now training employees through video games, teaching kids how to build houses and sustain parks, and creating relationships worldwide.

This industry can be inclusive and break down the barriers of who you are and your background. The only thing that matters is what is on the screen. That is the reason why I was motivated to start the Esports Student Leadership Board at DePaul University to help raise awareness of the industry and foster the next generation of industry leaders.

In your opinion, what about esports gets people excited to compete and have fun?

I think this falls on the same line as any other sport. As a child, you grow up playing a game with your family and then continue to play with your friends. The competitive side in you always wants to beat the person on the other side and to do so; you must technically get better and become a better teammate. You love playing the sport because it brings you joy and is something that allows you to connect with people.

If you want to compete at a higher level, you must train harder than everyone else. It is easy to pick up a sport and play, but to become a master of the game is tough. To become a pro in a sport is almost impossible. However, the journey that people take to try and become a pro is the reason why so many people love to go out and compete. Nothing about what I mentioned earlier gives any reason why sports and esports are different. Traditional sports are more physically demanding and less mentally demanding, whereas esports are more mentally demanding and less physically demanding.

The reason why people have fun in esports? It brings them back to their childhood. People grew up playing video games, playing with their friends, and building a community.

Where would you like to see the esports program at DePaul University in the next three years?

I love where DePaul University has taken the esports program so far. My goal with the Esports Student Leadership Board is to provide that pathway for students to get an excellent education and learn more about the esports industry. In three years, I would love to see that pathway from high school to college and from college to career become more concrete. One of my passions for the esports industry is breaking down the barriers and making it as inclusive as possible.

I would love to see more social responsibility involvement from esports programs across the country. It is essential to give back to high schools that cannot afford equipment but also provide resources for a child to go to college through esports/gaming.

DePaul University Esports Contact Info:

Twitter/Instagram: @ depaulesports

Facebook: @depaulesportsgamingcenter




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