It’s time for us to reintroduce ourselves and give a snapshot of our mission, vision, and current state as the world around us has changed. This is a lot of content to go over so we’ll summarize right off the bat and leave you to explore the rest of the article if you want more of a deep dive. Thank you for stopping by and we hope what we’ve done excites you and interests you regardless of being an OU fan or not!
Our mission is to advocate, educate, and entertain our community and our viewers on the energies and topics of esports and gaming cultures as well as support our teams and the games we love in the state of Oklahoma.
WAIT! WHAT IS ESPORTS!?
In a nutshell gaming and esports aren’t entirely the same thing. Gaming can best be described as playing a pickup game of basketball with your friends at the local court. Esports, however, is the NBA finals with all the production, team development, venue operations, and marketing. We are first and foremost a gaming community with extensive esports practicum. These industries represent current wildfire growth in all segments and as an institution of higher learning, we have built our programming to align with many missions within the walls of The University of Oklahoma. This means student engagement, academic curriculum development, relevant practicum for experience opportunities, intercollegiate competition, and much more! This is more than just playing video games!
The OU Esports Club is a competitive classified registered student organization of 3.5+ years in development. It is focused on catering to the community needs of gamers at OU first and foremost as well as our surrounding networks while having a deep interest in philanthropy and giving back. It develops intercollegiate competitive teams to represent OU, creates media and news for general consumption and as a showcase of who we are all while developing professionals for the ever growing gaming and esports industry segments. Anybody can be a member of our discord but only OU students and alumni can be registered members at the time of this article.
OU XP DOCUMENTARY
If you don’t care to read a ton of text and would rather get an overview of what we’re doing and what we’re all about take a look at this documentary we pushed out in Spring 2019 by OU Creative Media students Zachary Satz and Stingray Schuller. It showcases our organizational goals, mission, and structure.
OU XP DOCUMENTARY
We are a 3.5+ year old officially licensed development at OU now with a community of over 1100 gamers across OU, the region, and with our collegiate peers. OU Informational Technology serves as our sponsoring department as a prerequisite to gaining registered student organization “Competitive Club” distinction. We have several ways to get more involved beyond being a member with event programming, competitive play, news & media creation, streaming, and shoutcasting. Instead of rewriting content we have elsewhere already on our website, we are going to link to those segments directly and also share up to three of the most recent events or milestones to give you all a better idea of what each of these pillars does.
When we started research in Fall 2016 we approached developing our infrastructure by looking at the macro view of the esports and community-centric gaming segments of the overall gaming industry. We isolated 6 specific pillars of development that all have academic tie-in opportunities within the various preexisting academic missions across The University of Oklahoma. We launched staging each of the 6 pillars in tandem to build our response to the growing need for structure around these energies. They are Leadership, Community, Intercollegiate Competition, Media & News, Shoutcasting, and Streaming Entertainment. We will highlight each in the next section as well as link you to direct highlights and achievements during our ramp-up.
Our leadership is in charge of each of our 4 departments and 6 pillars creating a diverse and complex representation of a professional esports company. They represent the often thankless jobs that keep the machine moving and set the tone and pace of development moving forward. These achievements often go unnoticed at the top level but are the core of how we operate. We meet with university administration, coordinate strategized marketing campaigns, and seek fundraising and financial sustainment opportunities. The primary accolade of the Leadership department is strategic planning, policy creation, and enforcement.
Our Community Department focused on two main areas. First, student engagement which includes the general community physically in and around OU’s walls. Second, external communities and philanthropy focused programming. We set out to accomplish one of the most insane things ever, “…let’s cater to all gamers, from MOBA to FPS, RTS to RPG, PC to Console…”. We do this by finding passionate advocates for games we see being requested and empowering them to develop programming leveraging all the collective power in the leadership branch for marketing and awareness, funding, and real-time communication infrastructure. Second is our outward external collaboration with philanthropy energies and 3rd party coordination with preexisting cons and events. The Community Department is the most important department in our organization as it is the future fan base of our teams, talent pools for multiple departments, and the primary consumer of our results. Take a look at recent articles highlighting these energies below!
MEDIA & NEWS
Our Media & News department helps us personify who we are to everyone in and outside of the organization. We have students that create montage videos from events they cover. We have opinion articles ranging from emotional to analytical. We offer hardware and software reviews that correlate with products we consume and use in our segment. This department gives us our voice, reveals our dynamic nature, and showcases everything we do as an extension of journalistic practicum and media outlet for all things OU Esports Club as well as the general esports cultures everywhere. This is what “www.sooneresports.org” represents. We’re going to showcase an example of a montage, opinion article, and a review below.
Our Shoutcasting department is responsible for the production of live event coverage best described as broadcast journalists. They announce games in real-time for play-by-play analysis for education and entertainment just like you would see in traditional sports entertainment broadcasts. Our casters cover a wide variety of titles, provide coverage for events physically on-premise as well as virtually, and support not only our own branded events but also for 3rd party events. Where do you find a Rocket League, League of Legends, Overwatch, etc. announcer for your event for better visibility and production value? Don’t know? We’re creating them. Shortly before the COVID-19 changes this team was developing programming under the OU TV banner as we scaled up conversations with the OU Gaylord College of Journalism. Below are full-length productions of games and events we have announced. They long so skip around in them for tons of examples of what we do with this energy.
OKLAHOMA K-12 EXHIBITION
2nd ANNUAL BEDLAM
Our Streaming Entertainment division represents the larger portion of all gaming communities. We all consume entertainment genres differently. Many of us like sports entertainment, plenty love sitcoms, tons adore drama, and the same goes for reality TV. Thanks to companies like Facebook, Mixer, Twitch, and YouTube the ability for all of us to create content through pre-recordings and live broadcasts has become quite easy with low costs to get started. This branch of our development satisfies four factual opportunities.
- First, the undeniable truth that many households consume content from sites like those mentioned earlier.
- Second, that many high school students think about becoming influencers, content creators, and personas(Reference THIS).
- Third, these are money-generating opportunities that can absolutely sustain a financially stable lifestyle or augmentation to another career when approached strategically, consistently, and intentionally.
- Finally, successful streamers, if reverse engineered, could easily be a use case for topics in academic curriculum specialization and evolution in speech, marketing, advertising, business, broadcast journalism, and more.
From Mario Brothers speed runs, streamed party games, and talk shows, we treat our streaming energies coupled with our shoutcasting developments to create the foundation and mission of developing a TV station filled with programming for a broad audience and grow those interested in streaming underneath our banner.
SOCIAL TRIVIA PARTY
OFFICIAL TWITCH CHANNEL
Our final department is Intercollegiate Competition. We deliberately leave this last because it’s the #1 topic everyone thinks about, but without that journalistic energy as a foundation as well as a community we lack future fan base development, awareness of what we’re doing, and a means to showcase our teams. We also wanted to prove the point that gaming and esports are not the same things and without a strong presence and a voice nobody will ever take notice. At the time of this document, we currently have several teams that wear the venerable OU interlocking logo on their chest and represent the University of Oklahoma in the most formal capacity possible. They are:
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (Cross-platform)
- A long running first person shooter.
- 1 Team
- Counterstrike: Global Offensive (PC)
- A long running first person shooter.
- 1 Team
- League of Legends (PC)
- A fantasy based 5v5 battle arena.
- 3 Teams
- Overwatch (PC)
- A fantasy based 6v6 first person shooter.
- 2 Teams
- Rocket League (PC)
- Take soccer, add cars put them on a soccer field with a giant ball.
- 1 Team
- Super Smash Brothers Ultimate (Nintendo Switch)
- Nintendo’s monster fighting gaming where iconic characters predominately battle in 1v1 combat.
- 1 Team
All of our teams compete primarily in collegiate only tournaments with scholarship prize pool incentives. They are also welcome and pushed to participate in other tournaments both public, pro, and hosted by other universities.
(OTHER ENERGIES) OU FIT & REC - INTRAMURAL ESPORTS
Traditionally OU Fit+Rec is a department that provides the OU community with access to conventional health and wellness opportunities. However, due to the COVID-19 impact, they have had to adapt their operations and programming. As a means to evolve, they brought intramural esports opportunities online that aligned with their paused conventional sports and wellness offerings. This is a great example of how esports can serve as a means to actively engage OU’s diverse community despite the social distancing needs of the current global pandemic. While OU Fit+Rec’s intramural esports developments are not part of our current efforts we both immediately established communications and are active supporters of each other and are looking for ways to collaborate. The wonderful part of this is despite all the necessary operational changes we both are developing programming in different titles and focuses allowing us to supplement each other’s energy without creating unnecessary redundancies. This results in more opportunities overall for the entire community of The University of Oklahoma collectively.
In closing, the OU Esports Club developments represent a macro view approach to developing an objective-oriented infrastructure that serves many different purposes. We have been intentional and deliberate in building a community and culture that echoes OU. Additionally, we have thoughtfully and strategically referenced preexisting academic program overviews and efforts to build our job descriptions and opportunities for collaboration. We want to personify that this is more than just playing video games and the analytics of the strong gaming and esports industry segments continuously grow stronger proving the need is only growing. Prior to the COVID-19 impacts, esports was already growing at an exponential rate, but with the current pandemic, the topic is elevated further. We aim to push our agenda as an incentive to being a student, employee, or fan of our university while we uplift the entire scene through execution, education, and personification of what being a gamer in the modern-day truly means. This is more than just playing games!
-The OU Esports Club
OTHER SIGNIFICANT MEDIA
TEDx TALK ABOUT US
This TED Talk discuses the strategy and approach of our development aligning with our specific universities mission, goals, and culture.
PODCAST WITH STUDENTS
This video features a co-hosted discussion and podcast with Joe “Rakaul” Belousek as he uncovers how we operate, our vision, and our impact alongside several of our students. You can check out his podcast HERE.