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Ohio U Trustees approve space and funding for esports community

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The Ohio University Board of Trustees recently approved $650,000 in funding for a 2,600 square-foot gaming facility that is expected to offer new amenities to the esports and gaming communities at the university. 

The gaming area — which is planned to be built on the ground level of Scripps Hall — is expected to include a competition room for the university’s esports events, a social gaming area, an office space and a broadcast booth for esports commentators.

Jeff Kuhn, an instructional designer at the Office of Instructional Innovation — a university office that focuses on developing new ways to educate students — and the project’s coordinator, indicated his plans to be thrifty in constructing the gaming space.

“We are really looking at every dollar spent,” he said. “We’re reaching out to vendors and also looking at individual computer parts just to see how we can squeeze every opportunity out of every dollar we have.” 

Kuhn said he’s considering corporate sponsorships to help alleviate facility costs, which is not uncommon in the esports industry.

College esports teams also attract sponsors. According to the University of Akron’s website, its esports facility is sponsored by Steelseries, a company that creates computer mice, keyboards and other gaming accessories.

Kuhn said he would like to see the new gaming facility as both an educational space for game design classes and an opportunity to research how esports affect players both physically and psychologically. 

While nothing is finalized, Kuhn indicated the space could house up to 50 gaming computers along with a few game consoles such as the Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4 and Xbox One.

“There’s been a bit of an arms race with esports facilities across the nation. Throwing large sums of money at (esports), which hasn’t been (Ohio U’s) approach,” Kuhn remarked while discussing other schools’ esports programs. “We’ve been very slow and very cautious to maximize all the affordances and dollars we are spending.” 

Ohio U is ushering the esports industry to the university later than other schools in the state.

Miami University of Ohio, having won several gaming championships, is one of the best esports schools in the country. The university is one of the earliest adopters of esports, beginning its involvement in the scene in 2016.

The University of Akron began its program in 2018 and has varsity teams in several popular games such as Overwatch, League of Legends and Rocket League. Ashland University began its program in 2019.

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