The Esports Craze: High Scores Meet Higher Learning
Video games or esports is a multi-billion-dollar worldwide industry, making more money than the film industry.
Oklahoma universities believe esports not only provides exposure for the school, but careers after graduation as well.
Oklahoma City University has put together its first esports team, which competes with other universities.
“We have four teams that are playing in four different games. We are looking to add a fifth team, and we are looking for athletes to populate those teams,” says OCU Esports Director Jeff Price.
OCU will have 12 full-ride scholarships available in the fall.
Several Oklahoma universities have esports club teams.
The University of Central Oklahoma is working to build an esports game room on campus in the spring.
Price is looking for the best esports players around and will soon be hiring a coach.
“There's software you can register for that allows you to see all the different matrices from players across the country,” added Price about recruiting players.
At OCU, Price also hosts esports competitions between high schools.
OCU sophomore Chris Winkel is so confident he will earn some sort of gaming scholarship in the fall that he’s giving up his current golf scholarship at the end of the year.
“A large part of why I'm here is because I got a golf scholarship. So, if I get to do something I like more while retaining a scholarship, it’s a no-brainer,” said Winkel, who came to OCU from Iowa.
Winkel feels he can go into an esports career after graduation.
Those familiar with professional events understand all the different esports careers available.
The competitions are usually streamed online with a broadcast team, like the one you’d find in the booth at an NFL game. There’s also merchandise and game marketing.
Professional esports athletes compete in a sold-out arena and make millions.
It’s huge on the West Coast, but Dallas has several professional esports teams. An esports-only arena has opened in Arlington at a former convention center.
Price is now working with a local esports enthusiast, hoping to bring a professional esports team and arena to Oklahoma City.
“A $6 million arena,” said Price, who won’t reveal the investor’s name.
Price said the investor has deep pockets, and the two have been looking at properties, like the Gold Dome on Northwest 23rd Street and the Cox Convention Center for the arena.