Director, UCI Esports program
UCI is the first public university to create an official esports program and is regarded as one of the best and most comprehensive in the world. The vision for the esports program was born in the summer of 2015. With a successful Computer Game Science major, a thriving gaming community, and a history of elite competition, UCI is a natural place for esports to thrive. Working with student leaders, faculty, UCI’s gaming community and forward-thinking administration, the esports program was announced in the spring of 2016. On September 23, 2016, the UCI Esports Arena powered by iBUYPOWER was opened, and UCI offered scholarships to its first League of Legends teams.
Mark led the effort to create the award-winning esports program at UCI. Working closely with student leaders, administrators, faculty, and industry partners, Mark built a business plan that is both cost-neutral to the university and that broadly approaches the world of esports through the five pillars of Competition, Research, Community, Entertainment, and Careers.
In June 2018, UCI’s League of Legends team won the College League of Legends Championship. In October 2018, UCI’s esports program was awarded “Most Outstanding Collegiate Program” at the Tempest Awards. While at UCI, Mark has helped UCI break six world records and led their League of Legends team to a 2018 Collegiate Championship. Mark has a B.S. in psychobiology from UCLA and a MBA from Cal State Fullerton’s Mihaylo College of Business and Economics.
My name is Mark Deppe and I direct the UCI Esports program. We elevate competitive play to harness human potential. Our vision is to make UCI the global hub for esports – where academia and industry collaborate to improve competition, advance research, engage communities, create entertainment, and launch careers. Additionally I serve as Commissioner for the North America Scholastic Esports Federation. With that philanthropic endeavor we seek to provide opportunities for ALL students to use esports as a platform to aquire critical communication, collaboration, and problem-solving skills needed to thrive in work and live.
I’ve spent my entire career in higher education. A few years ago, as I was ready for a career change, I saw the opportunity to build out esports at UCI. After whispering the idea to only my closest friends, I eventually got the courage to reach out to students, staff and faculty to really explore the idea. Four years later, we have a premier collegiate esports program and I could not be happier.
There’s a lot of excitement around esports right now. I think people need to be vigilant and watch out for scams or over-hyped business or ideas. Yes, esports are growing, but not every esports idea is a good one.
We want our players to compete and succeed at the highest levels. That means we need to have a great culture and to provide all the necessary resources.
A former boss one said that he tried to surround himself with talented people and then get out of their way. My goal is to get great folks into our program and then remove any barriers in front of them.
Start. Find a part of the industry that interests you and start doing it. If you’re hoping to break into esports, you’re going to need to demonstrate that you’re passionate about it and understand it. All you really need is a computer and an internet connection.
My audacious goal is to be the John Wooden of esports. We’re trying to set the standard for college esports and elevate the whole ecosystem.
When you compete, winning is important. Winning the 2018 College League of Legends Championships help solidify our program’s place as a top college program.
Some of our toughest moments are dealing with team and personality conflicts. We’ve learned how importance it is to build team cohesion and work through issues before they get too big.
One of our biggest focuses this year is for our program to be intentional. It’s easy to get side-tracked when there are lots of opportunities and things to spend time and energy on. I want us to focus on what’s important and not get distracted.
I think my parents are my biggest influences. My dad approaches life and work with a lot energy and makes every day fun and exciting. My mom is the kindest and most compassionate person I know. I try and mix energy and compassion into everything I do.
A Day in My Life:
What do you love most about Your City?
Irvine is a great, safe, beautiful city. It’s a great place to live, work and raise a family.
What are you doing at:
6:00 AM – Just waking up. My morning duties include feeding/walking our two dogs and getting my son to daycare.
10:00 AM – Checking email or in meetings’
12:00 PM – My favorite local lunch spot is Le Diplomate Cafe, a great sandwich spot. Always go with the garlic sauce.
7:00 PM – Winding down for the day. I’ll have cooked dinner for my family and we’re sitting on the couch watching some Disney movie with our son.
11:00 PM – I like to catch up on esports after everyone else is in bed. I’ll make sure I’m up to date on the recent League of Legends matches.
What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?
I start the day with a couple cups of coffee and like to end it with a couple glasses of wine.
Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?
Twitter is a central hub for esports so I’m on that often. Twitch is also super important given that’s how most gamers stream and watch each other play.
What should everyone try at least once?
Starcraft Brood War.
Where do you enjoy getting lost?
If I’ve got time to kill or need to take a call on my cell phone, I like to walk around Aldrich Park in the middle of UCI’s campus.
What Else to Know?
Here are some interviews I’ve done recently: