Emily A. Oeser, who was once on track to study violin performance, has, for the last few weeks, been working to launch an Esports program at SUNY Sullivan.
Ms. Oeser said she was auditioning to get accepted into the Crane School of Music when she had an epiphany.
“Is this what I want to do for the rest of my life?” she said.
Instead of Potsdam, the Palatine Bridge native turned to SUNY Canton to take some general education courses while she figured out what to do with her life.
She didn’t think she would stay at Canton, but that was before she discovered the game design major that was just being offered at the college.
Besides playing the violin, Ms. Oeser said, the biggest part of her childhood was playing video games with her little brother.
“He didn’t want to play alone,” she said, and she was a good big sister.
Esports at SUNY Canton came along shortly after she entered the game design program, and Ms. Oeser was one of the first to sign up.
Ms. Oeser was the team’s first captain and eventually became a team manager.
Being a woman in the world of video games is not always easy. Male gamers have a reputation of not being inclusive toward women.
At SUNY Canton, Ms. Oeser organized what is believed to be the first all-female collegiate Overwatch team and participated in a match with another all-female team. SUNY Canton also had an all-female game day and invited students from the college and area high schools to participate.
Ms. Oeser spent her entire senior year studying from home and as graduation approached she had determined that she would seek a job as an Esports coordinator or coach.
She started sending out letters and resumes shortly after graduation and after a few weeks of nail-biting and anxiety, she landed six interviews. Two of those were in New York, which she said was a big factor because she went to school on an Excelsior Scholarship, which requires students to stay in the state one year, for each year they used the scholarship. SUNY Sullivan was the job she landed.
This will be the SUNY Sullivan Generals first year in Esports, and Oeser is in charge of pretty much everything.
She will be signing up athletes, taking care of the school’s arena, signing up sponsors, scheduling tournaments and maybe most important to her, making the program and the arena as inclusive as possible.
Initially SUNY Sullivan will be offering three titles, Overwatch, which is Ms. Oeser’s specialty, League of Legends and Rocket League.
Ms. Oeser said her goal for the SUNY Sullivan team is to increase interest and increase the number of titles being played.
“I want to one day to be able to say we need a second arena,” she said.
Her parents, she said, are excited about her landing a job in her field so quickly after graduating.
“They don’t understand any of it,” she said. “But they are proud and they think it is cool.”
And her little brother, the one who started it all, is at Alfred State College where he studies business and, of course, is on the Esports team.