University of Akron’s e-sports video gaming program draws more than 1,100 responses

January 30, 2018 GMT

University of Akron’s e-sports video gaming program draws more than 1,100 responses

AKRON, Ohio - University of Akron officials are amazed by the response to the school’s new e-sports video gaming program.

Since Dec. 18, when the varsity and club programs were announced, more than 700 current and 400 prospective students have indicated they are interested in playing or supporting Zips gaming, officials said.

University of Akron creates varsity e-sports video gaming program

“We are completely blown away by the response,” said spokesman Wayne Hill.

E-sports, or electronic sports, involve video-game players competing in tournaments. E-sports competitions have gained popularity on college campuses. UA is the first public university in northeast Ohio to create a program.

Because of the high interest, the university has decided to hire an assistant director and coordinator to work with E-sports Director Michael Fay Jr.

President Matthew Wilson decided to examine adding e-sports this fall as another creative way to draw students, but he said he never expected it would be so popular.

The structure of the program will mirror traditional varsity athletics with team members participating in tryouts, wearing uniforms and maintaining practice schedules. They will also have to meet academic requirements.

The varsity e-sports program will involve about 40 students, who will be eligible for scholarships. An associated club program will involve several hundred e-sports players.

About 50 universities in the country now have e-sports teams. Though smaller colleges initially started programs, universities with official e-sports teams now include the University of Utah, Georgia State University, Boise State University, Miami University and the University of California, Irvine.

UA said on its e-sports website that it anticipates the varsity team will compete against other universities in four online video games: the science-fiction, shooting game, “Overwatch;” the fantasy game, “League of Legends;” the soccer-inspired car-arena game, “Rocket League;” and the fantasy card game, “Hearthstone.”

The club program will include more games.

Wilson said he decided to add the program after visiting the newly established e-sports program at the University of Utah, where he received his bachelor’s degree.

That university’s Entertainment Arts & Engineering video game development program, which is under the College of Engineering, sponsors the Utah e-sports program.

Wilson stressed that UA’s program will provide a “sense of community” for gamers, who often play alone. The program also will involve academics, which is why officials chose to house the program in the Williams Honors College.

The university also is seeking students in engineering, computer science, communications, health and wellness, and other fields to help build the e-sports arenas, broadcast games, design materials and assist with training and nutrition.

Wilson said professors have expressed interest in the program, including a psychology professor who would like to research the optimum hours a day a gamer should be playing and a professor who would like to study nutritional requirements.

“Red Bull and Doritos are not a good diet,” Wilson said.