Ohio State University has created a full Esports Program that covers academics, collegiate competition and multidisciplinary research.

While many Educational Institutes have been creating Esports clubs, teams and co-branded events, Ohio State has gone the full mile and adopted Esports into every core aspect of the University.

With Ohio State being a leader in engineering, academics, research and medicine, it seems a natural fit to pull all of these together to support the esports program,” – Deborah M. Grzybowski, co-director of the game studies and esports curriculum development and associate professor of practice in The Ohio State University Department of Engineering Education.

Indeed, OSU isn’t going into this half way. They detail their plans as:

“An interdisciplinary curriculum spanning five colleges will focus on game studies and esports is being developed at the core of this program. 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.

“Specific areas of study may include esports management, game art and production, game design, programming, the business of games, and health and rehabilitation. The university is actively seeking input from industry partners to construct the most comprehensive programs possible.”

It can’t be understated how important these programs are. As large as Esports has become, there aren’t any direct educational paths into the industry. As an event organizer myself I can attest that we hire mostly on experience and past work, not education. So many in the field self train out of necessity we pass over formal education reqs favoring past work experience. As events get bigger and more common, having formally certified applicants would be helpful.

Where can these students get on hand experience? OSU will be building an on campus arena to provide both that opportunity and an outlet for multi-school competitions via a partnership with the Electronic Gaming Federation.

“A state-of-the-art arena is being built on campus to complement this curriculum and to give students diverse career opportunities. The arena will be home to Ohio State’s esports teams and open to all students. The teams will compete with other Power 5 universities in a newly-formed league commissioned by the Electronic Gaming Federation. The Ohio State University will help to develop the governance body of this league.”

Finally, thanks to the Wexner Medical Center, OSU will be creating deep research initiatives to study the physical demands and ramifications of esports athletes:

“Ohio State is known for high-performance athletics, and esports plays to this strength, the methods are the same as any other sport, the skills are just different. We have a lot to learn from studying esports athletes, from their exceptional reaction times and rapid decision-making abilities to their physical attributes and health behaviors.” –James Onate, co-director of the Sports Medicine Movement Analysis and Performance Program at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center.

Wexner Medical will be doing extensive testing on players to determine the exact skill sets that lend themselves to winning performances. They plan to create training tools to improve the determined skills so that there’s scientifically backed methods for training and maintaining the reaction time, auditory response and movement of pro players.

As a whole it’s very exciting to see how seriously Ohio State is taking esports education and competition. Hopefully this will inspire many more schools to take the same initiatives.