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Moonlit Beshimov speaks with members of UH Mānoa’s esports team.

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s esports program welcomed the head of Google’s gaming strategy and initiatives, Moonlit Beshimov, to the campus in September. Esports program leader Nyle Sky Kauweloa gave Beshimov and her husband tech executive Ilias Beshimov, a tour of the iLab facility and hosted an informal talk story session with members of the esports team. The students learned about the current trends in the industry.

This visit came after UH Mānoa became the first higher education institution to host the Overwatch League in 2021 and 2022, providing more opportunities for students to learn about the growing global esports industry.

“For her to see what is happening here, she was quite impressed number one,” Kauweloa said. “This whole idea of college esports is very new to them and so I can tell that they have a lot of ideas of what could happen and the potential of our program here. It’s really brought more of a spotlight to UH esports, to our iLab, and to our students and our teams overall. I hope to work with her more in the future because they see potential here for Google.”

More on the esports program

Global esports revenue is projected to reach $1.38 billion in 2022, up from $1.08 billion in 2021. Not only has Kauweloa helped the esports team become one of the top programs in the nation, he has also spearheaded the academic side. UH Mānoa now offers an internship credit course for students who volunteered during the Overwatch League tournaments, and a three-course esports series in the College of Social Sciences.

“What really struck me to be very impressive is turning esports as the entryway to introduce students to the whole business of gaming,” Moonlit Beshimov said. “Gaming is such a big market, it’s a huge business. It’s bigger than both the movie and music industries combined. Most people think of gaming as not something you do for a living. …It’s a leading industry for technology. It’s a huge market, with a lot of innovation coming out of it. That angle is incredible besides the actual achievement of being a ranked esports team in the nation.”

Vote for UH Mānoa esports

The UH Mānoa esports program is up for the best collegiate esports program of the year award for the second consecutive year, and Kauweloa has been nominated for the collegiate esports ambassador of the year award. The public can vote for the team and Kauweloa on the Esports Awards website until November 30.

Visit the UH esports team’s Twitter and Discord pages. More stories on UH’s esports program.

Note: Beshimov visited the campus while on vacation, and her thoughts expressed in this article do not reflect the overall views of Google.

—By Marc Arakaki

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