- Ohio State University is launching an interdisciplinary gaming studies and esports program that will span five of its colleges — Engineering, Education and Human Ecology, Arts and Sciences, Business and Medicine — and include at least one undergraduate degree, according to the university. The program doesn't yet have a launch date, though it is expected to be at least a year out. Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center already researches mental and physical behavior of elite esports athletes.
- The initiative will also include an elective class in esports content production, a gaming speaker series and an online certification. The certification and online classes will be developed after the degree program is in place, a university representative told Education Dive in an email. A planned 4,000-square-foot, 80-plus-seat esports arena will serve the program and be home to a new university esports team.
- The curriculum is still in development and Ohio State is soliciting input from the industry. Topics on the table include esports management, programming and game and arts production. Neither academic nor athletic scholarships will be available for the program initially, but the representative said that is a future goal.
Analytics company Newzoo expects global esports revenues to reach $906 million this year, with North American revenues accounting for 38% of that sum. Corporate interest in the emerging field is strong. Newzoo forecasts that by 2021, 84% of esports revenues will come from investment by brands, such as team and tournament sponsorships.
Ohio State joins a small but growing number of colleges responding to that positive trajectory.
Emerson College offers esports classes for current and incoming students. Students in the University of California, Irvine's continuing education program can take esports courses and also earn a certificate in esports management online. And the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), is in its third year and cohort of an esports management class through its International Gaming Institute, with a focus on the future of esports at the neighboring Las Vegas Strip.
More esports classes and degrees are coming. Syracuse University's Newhouse School of Public Communications collaborated with Twitch, a popular esports video streaming platform, for its new Esports & Media class. And Becker College, in Massachusetts, will offer a bachelor's degree in esports management beginning next fall.
Many more institutions have added varsity esports teams — and some even scholarships for gamers — in recent years.
In an interview with Education Dive last month, Robert Rippee, director of the Esports Lab at UNLV, recommended colleges considering esports classes find alignment with their existing core competencies.
"We were already in the gaming business and have a close relationship with industry partners," he said. "For us to create a video game development lab would have made no sense. Business models in the casinos and entertainment industry are in our backyard."