ACR takes a deep dive into Miami University Ohio's esports program
Miami University Ohio formed its first Division I varsity esports team in 2016. The school was one of 20 National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) member institutions entering the 2016-2017 academic year and the largest in terms of enrollment. The varsity esports program at Miami University Ohio is also one of the first at a major research university in the United States.
Miami’s League of Legends team has already been successful, finishing second in 2016’s inaugural League of Legends invitational. Overwatch finished eighth nationally, and Hearthstone finished among the nation’s top 16.
What Esports Teams Does Miami University Ohio Field? Are Scholarships Available?
Miami University Ohio has four varsity RedHawks teams competing in League of Legends, Hearthstone, Overwatch, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO). The CS: GO team recently moved to full varsity status in 2018, advancing from the schools junior varsity program—Miami University Varsity Hatchery.
The Hatchery provides the opportunity for club teams to operate with more structure, and with support from varsity staff, with the ultimate goal of becoming a full varsity team. The Hatchery is a joint venture of Varsity Esports, the Miami University Esports Club, and the Miami Smash Club, with teams currently competing in NBA 2K, Fortnite, Rocket League, and Super Smash Bros.
The varsity esports program will begin offering partial scholarships in fall 2019. In addition, thanks to a $6 million donation from Mike and Anne Gossett Armstrong (both Miami '61), the Mike and Anne Armstrong Interactive Media Studies (AIMS) Scholars was established to provide scholarships to first-year students majoring in Interactive Media Studies, with a preference to those with demonstrated financial need. AIMS Scholarships are renewable and may be awarded to the recipient for up to four years.
Where Does the Miami University Ohio Esports Team Practice and Play?
Thanks to a partnership between the Miami University Libraries, Armstrong Institute for Interactive Media Studies (AIMS) and IT services, in 2017 the esports program moved into a state-of-the-art esports arena on King Library’s first floor. The arena, one of the first esports facilities at any university library in the nation, is equipped with six gaming stations. Each gaming computer has high-end graphics cards and monitors, specially designed to keep up with the intense graphic demands of modern gaming. Two large-screen televisions are available for viewing games in progress or reviewing previous games.
On average, team members practice anywhere from eight to 16 hours per week with competitions taking place throughout the week. All four Miami esports teams can utilize the arena at once if necessary.
What Degree Programs Does Miami University Ohio Offer for Aspiring Game Designers?
While collegiate esports participants come from a wide spectrum of majors, many students who participate in competitive esports plan to pursue careers in the games industry. Miami University Ohio is known for its digital game studies program, which routinely ranks among the top programs in the nation. Offered through the cross-disciplinary Armstrong Institute for Interactive Media Studies in the College of Creative Arts, the program offers the following degrees:
- BA in Interactive Media Studies (IMS) with a Digital Focus, IMS Minor
- BS in Games + Simulation, Games + Simulation Minor
- Digital Innovation Minor
- Graduate Certificate in Interactive Media Studies
The College of Engineering, Department of Computer Science offers top-ranked programs for game designers as well. Options include BS degrees in Computer Science, Software Engineering, and Computer Science/Software Engineering (dual major). Specializations include:
- Game and Entertainment Systems
- Modeling and Simulation
- Digital and Embedded Systems
- Interactive Media Studies
- Computer Program Translation
While specializations are open to Software Engineering and dual majors only, Computer Science majors are required to select a minimum of 15 elective hours (five courses) to complete the program. Elective options for gamers include Advanced Graphics and Game Engine Design, Foundations of Computer Graphics and Games, Game Design and Simulation, Simulation, and Artificial Intelligence, to name a few. Two “affiliate electives” are also required, which allows students to choose additional game design courses.
How Do I Join the Miami University Ohio Esports Team?
For additional details about the esports program at Miami University Ohio, or to apply, visit the official RedHawks website here. Note that many areas of the site are still under construction, but the contact pages are up and running.