Ohio U in final phase of eSports program development

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ATHENS, Ohio (WCMH) – A new esports arena is nearing completion, adding Ohio University to a growing list of esports programs across the country.

Since the first program started in 2014, there are now over 350 clubs and / or esports programs at universities across the country.

“Esports are essentially video games for competitive purposes,” said Dr. Jeff Kuhn, director of the esports program at Ohio University. “If you think about it, basketball is a game. But it’s organized in your team against my team and the winner becomes the champion. We are doing the same thing now with video games.

Although they are not officially sanctioned by the NCAA, the colleges have already held competitions and tournaments among themselves.

Kuhn believes it is only a matter of time before these programs are compared in a similar fashion to other NCAA sports.

“So we can play against other schools in the Mid-American Conference. We have the esports collegiate church. So we play 13 other schools and Akron can be home and we play them or Miami can be home and we play them.

Video games are expected to grow into a $ 200 billion industry this year, with esports and competitive games grossing $ 2 billion.

Some competitive players go pro, gaining referrals and endorsements even before they graduate from high school.

“We see people winning Fortnite® championships and making millions and millions of dollars at age 15 or 16 just because they brought the talent to the table, they brought the personality to the table,” Pat said. Daley, president of Bobcat esports.

At Ohio University, there’s more to eSports than just trying to get pro and potentially making that kind of money. Daley said it can be both mental and physical exercise.

“It’s not the process of sitting in a dimly lit basement with an energy drink and a bag of crisps and being super unhealthy. Here we have really tried to break that stigma and show that these are athletes, these are people who put in time and mental energy – this is a serious program, ”he said.

Students learn professional and virtual life skills that will serve them in the real world.

“It’s not just about being good at the game, although that’s an essential part. This is how well can you communicate with others. How well can you be a part of a team and how can you manage your own performance in a very stressful environment, ”said Kuhn. “Students interested in broadcasting, network infrastructure and game development can come here and study esports and broader video game technologies. The ability to work under stress. I compare it to driving a race car where you sit with sustained concentration for a long period of time. But really, more importantly, the ability to be a great teammate, to listen to your team members, to respond to what they need you to respond to, and to cooperate with a team is far more important than how fast you are. which you are with a mouse and keyboard. “

“I can take things that I’m learning playing in this super intense and very stressful environment and apply them to my social or professional life and say ‘Oh, I had to face someone who is really, really anxious or I had to deal with someone who has that kind of personality… and I kind of familiarized myself, all within the confines of a screen, playing a game, ”Daley said.

The benefits of esports can also be as simple as the community it creates.

“To be able to participate in a program like this, put on a jersey and represent this school that gave me so much… it’s amazing,” said Daley. “When you wear shirts, it almost feels like pride. There is that sense of accomplishment and I feel like I’m a player or an administrator… just putting on the esports jersey and being part of the program, it’s just wonderful.

“If you like movies, there is a space you can go to on campus. There is a cinema room. If you like books, you can go to the library. But for people who love video games, there was no kind of community space, ”Kuhn said. “So part of that is creating this classroom space dedicated to video games, but also providing this space where students can practice and be a part of this community. “

The initial goal was to open the Ohio University esports arena to the public in late October. However, despite being a virtual competition, the pandemic has also managed to find a way to disrupt that plan. The manufacturer that makes the Bobcats’ computers for games has been hit by the global shortage of computer chips. The new goal is to open the esports arena in January at the start of the spring semester.


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