The University of Akron recently announced it will join the varsity esports world. The new endeavor will launch in the fall of 2018 and be run through the university’s Zip Gaming program.
Creating a collegiate esports powerhouse
Akron is not just planning to create a small esports team for competitions. This Mid-American Conference university seeks to become a collegiate esports powerhouse. This initiative includes dedicated esports facilities for proper training.
An estimated 35 to 40 students selected to officially represent the university will also receive scholarships. The Akron Zips will compete are League of Legends, Hearthstone, Rocket League, and Overwatch, according to the university. Additionally, several hundred students will have the opportunity to join the Akron Video Game Club, the university’s existing gaming community.
“The University of Akron and its students will benefit significantly from the creation of an esports program,” said University President Matthew J. Wilson. “Embracing esports allows the University to continue attracting top students while providing an innovative pathway for students to flourish academically, socially and professionally.”
The program’s structure follows traditional varsity athletics. Team members will participate in tryouts, wear uniforms, and maintain practice schedules.
Multiple departments involved
While the program mainly aims to field a competitive gaming team, the university also looks to involve other departments in the new program.
This includes, for example, graphic design students working on branding, health students assisting players with proper nutrition, and engineering students setting up hardware and software.
“The career pathways continue to proliferate as the esports industry is anticipated to grow to a multibillion-dollar industry over the next several years,” President Wilson added. “It is important for UA to be ahead of the curve and responsive to the marketplace.”
The college esports boom
Collegiate esports is here. According to the National Association of Collegiate Esports — a nonprofit developing the structure of collegiate esports in the varsity space — more than 50 colleges across the US host teams.
Akron joins a number of universities that have entered the esports space recently. The University of Utah, for example, announced its varsity esports program in April. Then, the University of Texas made plans in August to open a new $200,000 facility dedicated to esports.
Interestingly, the University of Nevada decided to take a somewhat different route. The world leader in gaming research, innovation, and executive education jumped on the esports bandwagon with a research-oriented course.
All of the above shows the rapid and serious growth of collegiate esports. Given impressive projections for the industry’s future, universities look to integrate this success story into their educational repertoire.
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