UCI Esports Arena
Mark Deppe, founding director of UCI’s highly regarded esports program, will have a seat on the VOICE board. Above is the UCI Esports Arena. Steve Zylius / UCI

Irvine, Calif., Feb. 17, 2022 — The University of California, Irvine has become a founding member of Voice of Intercollegiate Esports to take an active role in shaping the higher education esports ecosystem. As a member of VOICE, UCI will join other collegiate esports leaders in conversations about issues in the esports environment. UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman will head the organization’s President’s Council, convening key people from many of the top academic institutions to address the rapidly growing esports landscape.

“UCI is thrilled to be a founding member of VOICE,” Gillman said. “I look forward to working with other university leaders to provide guidance to the nascent and exciting field of collegiate esports.”

As a founding member, UCI will have access to best-practice resources, speakers’ series, networking events, enhanced student opportunities and original industry reports, including benchmarking data to help develop the university’s existing esports program, launched in 2015.

“VOICE seeks to represent the interests of higher education in the fragmented and murky world of college esports,” said Mark Deppe, founding director of UCI’s highly regarded esports program, who will have a seat on the VOICE board. “It includes many of the best and brightest folks in our industry, including former UCI Esports staff.”

Both VOICE and UCI recognize the importance of having higher education leaders set the direction for college esports. As head of the President’s Council, Gillman will take an active role in cultivating the involvement of other Association of American Universities members. Kurt Melcher, who started the first-ever college esports program, at Chicago’s Robert Morris University, is VOICE president; and Glenn Platt, who founded and co-directs Miami University’s esports program (ranked by Best Colleges as the No. 1 college varsity esports program of 2022, with UCI being No. 2), is VOICE secretary.

The announcement of UCI’s founding membership in VOICE comes on the heels of the campus’s competitive successes in the second annual University of California Esports Initiative Invitational. The UCEI event is a celebration of the esports communities at all nine undergraduate campuses that encourages friendly competition, information exchange, student skills development, networking and esports visibility. UCI earned first-place finishes in Overwatch and Valorant and a second-place finish in League of Legends.

About Voice of Intercollegiate Esports: VOICE is a nonprofit member organization with a mission to shape the future of higher education by building an inclusive, sustainable, competitive collegiate esports ecosystem and creating a united voice for colleges and universities. For more on VOICE, www.voicecollegiate.org.

About UCI’s Brilliant Future campaign: Publicly launched on Oct. 4, 2019, the Brilliant Future campaign aims to raise awareness and support for UCI. By engaging 75,000 alumni and garnering $2 billion in philanthropic investment, UCI seeks to reach new heights of excellence in student success, health and wellness, research and more. Learn more by visiting https://brilliantfuture.uci.edu. 

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities and is ranked among the nation’s top 10 public universities by U.S. News & World Report. The campus has produced five Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 36,000 students and offers 224 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s largest employer, contributing $7 billion annually to the local economy and $8 billion statewide. For more on UCI, visit www.uci.edu.

Media access: Radio programs/stations may, for a fee, use an on-campus ISDN line to interview UCI faculty and experts, subject to availability and university approval. For more UCI news, visit news.uci.edu. Additional resources for journalists may be found at communications.uci.edu/for-journalists.