You’ve probably already heard that the eSports industry is booming with revenues fast approaching the billion dollar mark. In fact, experts estimate that the market will be worth $1.5 billion by 2020, so it’s not surprising that colleges around the world are getting into the game, with eSports programs, centers, and arenas turning up every day.
Today, we would like to tell you about at least four schools that have recently joined the eSports industry. Some schools are already members of the National Association of Collegiate eSports (NACE), while others are working on it. We would also like to tell you about a popular art and design school that plans to launch a new eSports arena that will become the largest of its kind in the nation.
We are pleased to announce that Full Sail University, New England College, Ohio State University, Shenandoah University, and Thomas College have expanded their eSports footprint with programs designed for students looking to play games competitively, develop games, or both.
1. New England College, Henniker, New Hampshire
The eSports arena at New England College (NEC) is set to open in January 2019 to complement academic programs that teach game design, game theory, social media branding, and strategy.
At the same time, the College will launch a new eSports program led by Tyrelle Appleton, who the school describes as “a nationally respected former eSports competitor, who will share his knowledge and experience with the next generation of gamers and designers.”
With Appleton as coach, players will compete as a team in games such as Overwatch, Fortnite, and League of Legends – the most popular games in the world. Per NEC, Appleton anticipates 20-40 students will join the first semester. He hopes to build the program from the “ground up and help establish New England College as a major competitor in the eSports field.”
New England College President Michele Perkins said, “Video gaming has been a popular activity for a long time, but esports is just now emerging as a competitive event at the college level and we plan to be actively engaged from the start in this emerging field.”
New England College is already a member of the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE), the governing body for eSports.
Founded in 1946, New England College serves approximately 1,200 on-campus and 1,500 online undergraduate and graduate students. Students represent 45 states and more than 15 countries. The school offers 20 undergraduate majors, 17 minors, and a number of graduate and certificate programs. New England College is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).
2. Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
Ohio State University has launched a unique eSports program that combines academics, collegiate competition and multidisciplinary research “to a give students as many opportunities as possible to be a part of the booming industry,” reports Ohio State News. The interdisciplinary curriculum will span five colleges and focus on game studies and eSports. “This curriculum will be one of the first of its kind in higher education and will include undergraduate and graduate degrees; an elective course in eSports content production; online certification programs for specialized credentials; and a gaming speaker series.”
To support the program, Ohio State University plans to build a state-of-the-art arena on campus The arena will be home to the schools eSports teams and open to all students. “The arena will not only be a place for our teams to practice and compete,” explains Director of eSports Brandon Smith, “but it will also encourage open gaming, and virtual reality experiences.”
The arena will include more than 80 seats, with computer console and virtual reality systems, and a broadcast booth for students interested in shoutcasting.
The schools eSports teams “will compete with other Power 5 universities in a newly formed league commissioned by the Electronic Gaming Federation.” Ohio State University “will help to develop the governance body of this league.”
Founded in 1870 as Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College, Ohio State University serves nearly 66,500 students enrolled in more than 200 undergraduate majors, 166 master’s degree programs and nearly 130 doctoral and professional degree programs in 18 colleges and schools. Ohio State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).
3. Shenandoah University, Winchester, Virginia
Shenandoah University has added four new degree programs in Virtual Reality and eSports. The Virtual Reality Design program will have two options including BA and BS degrees. The school will also offer BS degrees in eSports and Video Game Competition. Per the school the BA program will prepare students for careers producing content for augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) and related disciplines through a concentration in either VR Media or Digital Stages.
The BS focuses on careers for technical specialists and programmers in AR/VR or related fields. The eSports degree will offer three tracks including Management, Coaching, or Media and Communications, “positioning graduates well ahead of other applicants in competing for jobs in the industry,” says Associate Professor and Director of Sport Management Joey Gawrysiak. The programs also will offer minors and certificate options.
Students will “learn to build virtual worlds and scenes that create simulated life experiences for training or educational videos for museums, law enforcement, health professions and much more. In addition, “corporations are turning to universities to produce simulation-training videos giving students the opportunity to work on real-world projects.” The new Virtual Reality and eSports programs at Shenandoah University are set to launch in Fall 2019.
Founded in 1875 Shenandoah University serves nearly 4,000 students enrolled in 44 undergraduate degree programs and 30 graduate degree programs in seven colleges and schools. Shenandoah University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award baccalaureate, masters, and doctorate degrees.
4. Thomas College, Waterville, Maine
Thomas College has announced that it is launching a varsity eSports program, that it says is one of the very first in New England. Per a recent Thomas College news report, Varsity eSports team members will have uniforms and a coach, and they will practice and compete with “top-of-the-line equipment” including Alienware area-51 Threadripper computers, Alienware 25 Gaming Monitors, Alienware Wireless Gaming Headsets, Alienware Advanced Gaming Mice and Keyboards and individual headsets, “while also traveling to regional eSports competitions.”
Thomas College President Laurie Lachance said that the school has been “an innovator in many areas. eSports puts us at the leading-edge of co-curricular programming for our students,” said President Laurie Lachance.” The investment will support the goals of the schools “strategic plan, as varsity eSports will help college-wide recruitment and retention, bolster enrollment in technology degree offerings (cyber security, computer science, and computer information systems), increase student engagement, and build and enhance workforce skills that employers demand including collaboration, critical thinking, strategy development and the ability to plan and execute.”
Thomas College’s arena will be ready to host competitions on January 10, 2019. The school has already joined the National Association of Collegiate eSports (NACE) and will begin competing in regional and national eSports tournaments next Spring.
Founded in 1894 Thomas College serves 1,000 students from 21 states and eight countries. The school offers around 45 undergraduate, graduate, professional and minor programs. Thomas College is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
5. Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida
In an effort to establish itself as one of America’s leading eSports sites, Full Sail University plans to build an 11,200+ square foot arena that the school says, “will be the largest eSports arena to date on any college or university campus in the United States.” Dedicated to competitive gaming and in support of Full Sail’s new eSports team, The Armada, the arena will be fully equipped with the most current technology to host collegiate and professional gaming tournaments and live esports streaming events and will support 1 vs 1 games, 100 esports athletes playing simultaneously, and occupancy for over 500.
In a Full Sail University Press Release, the school reported that a “separate dedicated practice space for Armada will be housed on the 210+ acre campus and equipped with the latest in gaming technology.” Student eSports athletes will have the opportunity to train for upcoming tournaments in the practice space and on the road, and they will take part in events across the country and abroad.
With a $6 million investment in the arena, Full Sail University started the design phase for the space in early 2017, and construction started in June of 2018. The arena is scheduled to be completed by early 2019 and will be called “The Fortress.”
“We are excited about these additions to our campus as we continue to strive to make Full Sail the premier destination for students who want to pursue careers in entertainment and media, and specifically, gaming and the various aspects of the live event industry,” said Full Sail Chief Operating Officer Ken Goldstone.
“Whether it be the business aspects of video game and sports management, the information technology behind synchronized gaming within esports, to shoutcasting, live production, game creation, streaming live-casts, and more,” said Goldstone, “there are a multitude of diverse skills and opportunities for our students to explore.”
“In addition,” he said, “these efforts support our establishment as a leading global destination for students who want to participate in the esports lifestyle as part of their college experience.”
Currently, Armada teams compete in a variety of collegiate-level events in popular games including League of Legends, Smite, Overwatch, Rocket League, Smash Brothers, Dragon Ball FighterZ, and more.
Full Sail University began in 1979. The school, which offers on-campus and online degrees, serves approximately 15,000 students enrolled in graduate and undergraduate degree programs in areas related to Art & Design, Business, Film & Television, Games, Media & Communications, Music & Recording, Sports, and Technology. Full Sail University is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) and is licensed by the Commission for Independent Education (CIE), Florida Department of Education.