The gaming industry has come a long way from what I remember as a kid. Gaming to me used to mean The Legend of Zelda on the Nintendo 64, Crash Bandicoot on PlayStation, Super Smash Bros. Melee on Gamecube, and Mario Kart Wii. Video games were just something that gave you bragging rights against your siblings and friends, and occasionally caused a few tears. (I still haven’t forgiven some people for the blue shells they’ve sent my way.)
Today, however, the gaming industry has exploded into so much more than that. With the continuous advancement and expansion of technology and video games, a new world of Esports has emerged, and Ohio State is committed to giving its students the opportunity to be a part of it all.
This October, Ohio State launched The Ohio State Esports Arena, located in Lincoln Tower. The Arena features around 80 gaming computers, consoles, and virtual reality systems, as well as rooms for competitive team gaming and a broadcasting booth to record commentary.
“Having a space to practice with your team is very valuable,” said Jimmy Bauer, a fourth-year at OSU and the president of the Buckeye Gaming Collective. “In the past, the only way our teams would practice in person was before a match at a LAN (in-person) tournament, or by paying to play at a Gaming Café. Teams show the most growth when they can talk about mistakes and how to improve as things happen.”
The university is also in the process of creating an Esports and Game Studies major, showing just how legitimate the industry is becoming.
“I think gaming and Esports are finally losing the negative stigma around them. Some of the leaders in the industry are doing a really good job at showing how Esports is a viable career path,” Bauer believes. “People are starting to realize the potential of it and it’s no longer a negative thing to be a gamer. It’s growing more than ever. Fortnite was huge for reaching the mainstream population, but nearly every game is showing growth. Esports is seeing large investors come in to fund franchises and provide resources for professional players that rival what you’d see for traditional sports.”
Are you just a casual gamer? No problem, The Arena has room for you, too. While the space provides great resources and potential for growth for Ohio State’s competitive gaming teams, it is also intended to be available to the average gamer.
“The space also provides the ability for people who don’t have a PC to try them out for the first time. They’re nearly the best possible setups you can get right now, and hardly any college students would have access to them if Ohio State had not opened the space.”
With long hours and late nights open for campus students, gamers have ample opportunities to make use of the new space, no matter their schedules.
As far as the future of the Buckeye Gaming Collective goes, Bauer said, “The goal is for our leagues to provide an environment where students can play with a team of Ohio State students on a consistent basis. This could mean that they sign up solo and make new friends on their team, or that they sign up with their friends and can grow their relationships through gaming. We wanted to shine a light on the students who are interested in gaming, but don’t have the time or drive to play at the highest level. We hope to provide a professional environment, live streaming selected matches each week so that those players can see what it’s like to compete with friends in a semi-competitive setting.”
The Esports Arena hours are from noon to midnight Monday through Thursday, noon to 1 a.m. on Fridays, 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Saturdays, and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sundays. Check out @OhioStEsports and @OSUBGC on Twitter for the most up-to-date information, and get gaming, Buckeyes!