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Game On: UCO Enters Esports Realm with Club, Courses and Gaming Arena

Official UCO ‘mark’ on a white background

Sept. 10, 2019

Media Contact: Sarah Ward, Communications and Marketing Coordinator, UCO University Communications, 405-974-2106, sward24@uco.edu

Game On: UCO Enters Esports Realm with Club, Courses and Gaming Arena

The University of Central Oklahoma has entered the growing realm of collegiate esports with a competitive esports club with more than 250 student members, two credit-bearing courses in esports that have full enrollments this semester and plans to build out a former bookstore as a gaming arena.

“This rising interest and engagement from our students tell us how to support their drive and enterprise.  Not only can we support our current students through this initiative, we will open our doors to prospective e-athletes and invite them to join our campus community as well,” said UCO President Patti Neuhold-Ravikumar.

Esports or electronic sports is a form of competition using video games and connecting people from around the world through gaming – and it’s growing rapidly on college campuses. The National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) reports having more than 130 member schools, 3,000 student-athletes and offers $15 million in esports scholarships.   

Though not yet a NACE member institution, UCO students are already competing at top levels. UCO student e-athlete Ben Staudt, a senior music education – instrumental major from Guthrie, Oklahoma, competed individually this summer in SwitchFest, a global tournament in California. He placed 33 out of more than 430 of the best players in the world. Additionally, David Hanan, Ph.D., esports at UCO adviser, recently helped found the National Association of Esports Coaches and Directors and has played a key role in helping our student e-athletes move their club into national view. 

Over the next year, Central will begin renovating the former Thompson’s Book Store, located near campus on University Drive to serve as an esports gaming arena. The 5,675-square-foot space will house more than 45 high-end gaming stations, fiber optics with greater bandwidth and lower latency, high refresh rate monitors and will include streaming and shout-casting capabilities.

“To hear the news of a building renovation project for esports, as well as the general gaming community, is moving.  This building will be a cornerstone for our students, providing them with the opportunity to receive valuable and transformative learning experiences. These opportunities will provide UCO esports with the resources to connect academia and gaming,” Hanan said.

The renovated facility will be home to Central’s student esports team, allow Central to host local, regional and national competitions, provide academic space for esports courses and invite interaction with local high school students and community members. The project will be funded by university capital and facility fee reserves.

“Esports is about much more than gaming and hand-eye coordination. Esports can help to develop critical thinking, strategy making, teamwork and communication skills. And best of all, esports transcends boundaries of gender, age and physical ability. UCO is proud to offer a level playing field for our students to enter,” Neuhold-Ravikumar added.

For more information about Central, visit www.uco.edu.

To follow the  progress of Central’s esports team or for more information, visit www.facebook.com/esportsatuco.

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