With the addition of eSports to the games industry, the multibillion gaming market is larger than ever before. Earlier reports suggested that nearly half of Americans play video games. Others suggested that more than half engage. Today, it is believed that well over 65% of Americans are gamers, with revenue from mobile gaming applications alone to rise by 44% in 2020, from $41.5 billion in 2016.
With so much growth in the industry, colleges and universities have had a tough time keeping up with the demand for skilled game developers, designers, and professionals in just about every area of eSports, but we’re confident that they will catch up in time.
For now, we are pleased to report that four major universities have answered the call. They include Ohio State University, Shenandoah University, University of North Texas, and Washburn University.
1. 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).
2. 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.
3. University of North Texas, Denton, Texas
University of North Texas (UNT) has launched five new degree programs that have just been approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Among the programs is a Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) in learning technologies designed for people in the science and technology fields who want to work in game design, internet development, and information processing. The program, which will be offered through the College of Information’s Department of Learning Technologies, will be available in Fall 2019.
University of North Texas serves 38,000 students, making it one of the nation’s largest universities. Founded in 1890 as the Texas Normal College and Teacher Training Institute, the school offers 103 bachelor's, 86 master's, and 38 doctoral degree programs in 13 colleges and schools. The School of Business, which serves 5,800 students, is AACSB-accredited.
4. Washburn University, Topeka, Kansas
Washburn University has launched a new Game Design Minor with courses from the School of Business and the College of Arts and Sciences. Courses cover five departments within the schools including Art, Computer Science, History, Mass Media and Mathematics. Per a report by Washburn Review, the math class for the game design minor will focus on the “fundamental math tools to balance and construct mechanisms in a game,” while art courses will cover areas of animation such as such as digital painting and 2D and 3D digital animation.
Computer science courses will cover coding and virtual games and mass media courses will cover “the history of video games,” and the “background and other developments that led to the current virtual gaming environment.”
The program will consist of a total of 15 credit hours of existing courses along with a new Game Design course that will launch in Spring 2019.
Washburn University was founded on February 6, 1865 as Lincoln College. The school serves around 7,000 students and offers more than 200 courses of study in seven colleges and schools. Washburn University is accredited or approved by the Higher Learning Commission: A Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA-HLC).