In light of the explosion of popularity in eSports, a growing number of UK universities are offering eSport-related degrees to prepare students for future careers in the field. Many of the programmes include elements of marketing, event management and business.
In America, where traditional sports scholarships have long been a way into university, the big new college championships are for teams playing competitive eSports. Universities are offering incentives, including full scholarships and housing for the best eSports players.
Where to start with eSports?
UK universities have begun to embrace eSports as a way to attract, retain and entertain students. It’s only a matter of time before the UK follows the USA and we see purpose-built dedicated university eSports arenas being established, and more eSports scholarships being offered to attract talent.
EDUCASE’s article ‘Integrating eSports at Ashland University’ takes a look at how Universities in the USA are adopting esports.
“It was an opportunity not only to compete but also to potentially increase student enrollment through early collegiate eSports adoption. In addition to increased student enrollment, embracing eSports had the potential to bring tech-savvy students to AU and provide current students the opportunity to learn additional critical and analytical thinking skills.”
- Head eSports Coach, Josh Buchanan, Ashland University
Donald Tharp, Chief Information Technology Officer at Ashland University, has five best-practice IT recommendations to support the successful implementation of a college eSports program:
Assemble an agile small team.
The team includes the Enrollment Director, Provost, Athletic Director and CIO. This agile team allowed IT to access data to find the right technology and partners to meet our needs while also being cost-effective. You need decision-makers to achieve optimum success.
Ensure effective communication within the team.
It was important to get our marketing department involved as soon as possible in order to help shape messages for prospective students in words, video, and images. We want students who come to AU for eSports to stay for their education. (Technology is cool for some, but added “bling” brings in those on the edge of eSports and college admission.)
Find or hire an expert.
Not having a coach or expert on the team at the start required AU to be open to new concepts and ideas. Many of the games being played today don’t require extreme computing power. They need sufficient video graphics and processor power to handle a variety of games/tasks, enough RAM to handle the load, and effective cooling systems. Technology requirements vary by the game being played online. We soon learned that more is not better. We opted to build our machines based on the requirements of today’s games as well as those that may be popular in the near future (one to two years).
Coach input is essential.
Once we had a coach, his knowledge and experience allowed us to finally understand the games, inputs, and time and how the equipment contributes to team success. He was able to guide us to a solution for today but with an eye on next year’s games.
Right-size the technology.
Bigger and faster isn’t always better. Understanding today’s game requirements is essential to establishing the basics (low latency, speed, processor and video power) while still providing equipment that meets potential new gaming requirements. Additionally, we needed to understand usage patterns to help find the best solution.
The power of academic eSports
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