Triple Crown Bash Fundraiser Info >: Join the Emerald Foundation on June 10, 2022, from 6p to 11p for a night of cocktails, dinner, and auctions in the ballroom of the E on the Emerald Foundation Community Campus.

Triple Crown Bash Fundraiser Info >

Join the Emerald Foundation on June 10, 2022, from 6p to 11p for a night of cocktails, dinner, and auctions in the ballroom of the E on the Emerald Foundation Community Campus.

Outside the Lines of Code: Jeb Besecker – February 2022

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Esports

Emerald Esports recognizes the positive impact gaming has on a community as a whole. In this series, Outside the Lines of Code, we highlight the individuals, teams, and clubs affecting change, building community relationships, and spreading the positivity of utilizing video games in education. Venture outside the realm of gameplay and join “in real life” relationships, stories of inspiration, and the results of utilizing video games as a vehicle for learning, teamwork, and collaboration. This month the spotlight is on Jeb Besecker, soon-to-be graduate of St. Joseph’s University (St. Joe’s), who followed his path from playing games as a young kid to now working a dream job at Wazuzu, Inc.

The year was 2004.  Jeb’s story began when Facebook launched, Napoleon Dynamite became a cult classic, and Smarty Jones won the Kentucky Derby. Young Jeb Besecker was only six years old. He sat in his living room engaged in any number of PS4 game titles he had on his game shelf. His dad’s red Dodge Ram rolled up outside his house. Jeb reacted as if a Pavlovian bell had just been rung and quickly grabbed the remote to change the channel to an after-school cartoon. In no way would he be caught by his dad playing video games. How many kids out there have had a similar experience? In those days, it was not easy being a gamer. Video games had a bad reputation for making kids lazy, lethargic, and yes, for even avoiding sunlight. Even with the stigma, Jeb knew his future lay in the world of gaming. As Jeb put in more and more game time, he also paused to make time to fill a journal full of ideas for creating his own video game. Creating a video game requires many hours of coding or writing computer software.  As Jeb got older and entered into this world of coding, he realized that “something” seemed to elude him. He knew he wanted to be in the gaming world in some capacity, but at this point, he knew it wasn’t going to be through coding.

As many of us do in this age of global connection, he compared his skills to other gamers and coders that he met online that were like him. In doing so, Jeb almost gave up on his vision because he perceived others as being better than he was. But, in a serendipitous moment, he came across his video game journal he had started from the time he was six years old. That was the spark that reignited his childhood dream and expanded his vision of possibilities for creating his video game. Around the same time, his father, Joe Besecker, (the Founder of the Emerald Foundation, a non-profit of which Emerald Esports is currently the flagship initiative), began to pivot from the viewpoint of video games as a detriment to video games as a potential learning tool within the educational system.  Joe did a complete 180 from his original viewpoint after researching about these virtual worlds where kids learned effective communication, problem-solving skills, working with a team, and even bridging language barriers. Joe knew these skillsets were the top qualities employers look for in any young adult entering the workforce.

Time went on, and Jeb had the opportunity to join his father on a number of business engagements.  As he took in many meetings, lunches, and get-togethers, he could see the possibilities of going beyond the job of being a coder, and he began moving into the world of being a creative director. He could manage, organize, and be a leader of a team of designers, developers, programmers, artists, animators, writers, sound engineers, testers, tech support, producers, and marketing team that, as a complete and well-oiled machine, would bring his vision to life. It became his passion and, at present, his greatest accomplishment to date.  

Gaming for an immeasurable number of hours, Jeb focused on a particular game style; the “movie-like” or “story-driven game.” Jeb did not just play these games. He analyzed every aspect of the story, the music, the graphics, and the ability to pull the player into the character’s story. For Jeb, the first-person role-playing game that stands out head-and-shoulders above the rest is God Of War (PS4). The creator, Cory Balrog, is someone Jeb looks up to for building a fantastic game with an intriguing storyline as well as being as transparent about the game development as possible — something not standard in the industry.  

Throughout Jeb’s journey, his father recognized the potential positive impact of gaming, and Jeb no longer had to play in secret.  As a result, Jeb jumped in headfirst and became an advocate for video game clubs and esports teams in schools, community centers, universities, and colleges. He never had the opportunity in high school to be on an esports team, so this was special. He helped support his father’s vision of building esports teams. Both Joe and Jeb helped advise the incubation of one in particular for St. Joe’s in Philadelphia, where Jeb had just begun his freshman year. After advocating the educational benefits to the administration at St. Joe’s, their esports team was launched.  The St. Joe’s Esports program has since grown in leaps and bounds to become multi-faceted. It features a tech-forward, multi-use lab, academic coursework, and student experiences with a club sport option for students interested in entering the gaming network and industry.

Jeb is in his last semester at St. Joe’s. With his studies in Business Intelligence and Analytics coming to a close, Jeb will be leaving with a solid grasp of using data to develop new opportunities, recognize effective business strategies, and advance critical decision-making. On top of finishing his degree, Jeb has interned as a Business Strategy Specialist at Leaf Group, LTD., a diversified consumer internet company, and at Team Liquid, a world-renowned professional gaming organization. Currently, Jeb works for Wazuzu Inc., a holding company that creates value for its partners, customers, and stakeholders by leveraging a variety of innovative blockchain technologies. He is their Creative Director, leading a team, inspiring new ideas, and offering a fresh vision for captivating the target market within the Esports and Gaming verticals developing within the Wazuzu brand.

Thrilled to pursue the dreams he had as a kid, Jeb says that if he could “create something that someone else has a passion for” that would be everything he needs to keep working. He says it is exciting when you know you created something on which someone else is totally psyched about playing. There is a calling inside Jeb, no doubt borne from all of those hours of gaming from the time he was 6 years old. Data is clear that the power of video games goes beyond the fun of having it as a hobby. It has the ability to shape a kid’s life and provide a pathway to over a hundred different careers. The opportunities are out there, and Jeb’s story can motivate and inspire the next generation of gamers to find their path and follow their vision.

 

Thank you to Jeb for sharing your story and inspiring other gamers like you. 

Find Jeb on LinkedIn: @JebBesecker

 

Interested in launching an eSports club at your school or community center?  Visit Emerald Esports Club Registration page to get started:  https://esports.emeralde.org/esports-clubs/registration/

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