If you have already earned your degree and left college behind you, you may not want to read this article. The reason is especially painful if you are a gamer because The Ohio State University is now experimenting with classes – and degrees – in e-sports. There are three areas that have been targeted for the new “discipline”: sports marketing, coaching, and the general business side of sports.
Students will learn about the subject matter through playing video games, and though the details are not completely hashed out playing video games will be a part of the coursework. You can earn a degree in e-sports and game design on top of just taking the classes. Professors and administrators acknowledge that the curriculum is not ideal for every college or university, which is true because not every college takes their sports program as seriously as Ohio State. There also might be a strategy to use the degree offering as a way to entice more student athletes to sign with the school.
One aspect of this e-sports program that is sure to come under fire is it is just another time waster of a class to give students a degree for basically doing nothing. But the e-sport gaming industry and the gaming industry in general is a billion dollar a year industry. Online competitions are as common as homework, and somebody is going to know how to help companies market, sell, and design future e-sports games. This also shows that e-sports creation is not just something for computer programmers and designers.
An interesting approach to introducing these classes to the class catalog is the university is actually seeking feedback from the parents of students, some who have expressed a definite interest in this new road. Ohio State is one of the pricier places to go to college, so including mom and dad in the decision process makes sense. Also, it may serve as a way for students who are interested in the degree program to get their high school grades up in order to have a shot at getting into the university.
The University of Hawaii has taken a similar approach, but more slowly. It offered one class in e-sports and expected only about a dozen or so students to show an interest. More than 40 students signed up. Though Hawaii has not even begun to consider a degree program, the e-sports class can be useful as an elective course instead of having to take art or music. It may actually have a greater long term value and not gut a student’s GPA.
Concern about the e-sports and similar programs being introduced into the college curriculum are certain to rise, especially if parents are finding their children living at home for another 10 years after graduation because of a useless degree. But that is happening already, so the logic doesn’t seem to fit because if you are going to ban e-sports classes then why not go after the other 10 or 20 majors that offer even less of a chance at getting a meaningful job. You can also count on the psychiatrists and gaming addiction advocate groups to join the fray.
The Ohio State University program is actually just a test case. It will have to gain some momentum from the students who will actually enroll in the classes, and the coursework has to interest the students. At first glance it might seem this is a time-waster and a way for students to have to pay to play video games, something they can do at home for far less. But using computer games to teach children is being done in preschools and elementary school across the country. If the course is prepared correctly there is no reason to believe the course can be challenging and useful.
Earlier it was mentioned that parents were a definite part of the process in moving forward with the concept. They will continue to be a part of the evaluative process as the university works to discover how the courses can best be used to teach the subject matter. All of this is preliminary, and though there are no signs of abandoning the idea the interest has to come from the students. Though it may seem like every student will want to jump at the opportunity to play e-sports and get college credit for it there are easier courses, plus, they can do it after (or between) classes and not have to worry about any homework.