In a landmark decision, The University of Oklahoma
has created a Director of Esports and Co-Curricular Innovation role and appointed Mike “Moog” Aguilar, Lead Advisor for the OU Esports Club, to the position. This makes OU the first Big 12 University to fully endorse an esports program and name a Director of Esports
In addition to naming Aguilar a director, OU also plans to merge current functions of the club into its own department under Student Affairs. Viewable now on their website, “Esports and Co-Curricular Innovation” will be fully realized within the next two years. This is to be the culmination of efforts from the founding student officers and up-and-coming leadership of the past two years. Mike and OU Esports Leadership have laid the groundwork for this evolution to take place, and it has taken years of dedication from everyone to reach this point.
The most exciting part about this announcement, especially for us at Sooner Esports, is the “Co-Curricular Innovation” aspect. Those unfamiliar with esports often mistakenly view it solely as competitive video gaming, and they will often ignore the other fundamental surrounding areas.
Welcome @MoogDiesel as Dir. of Esports & CoCurricular Innovation @UofOklahoma - Mike’s been an inspiring advisor to our @OUEsports community & I can’t wait to see continued community building, curriculum design & professional development. In short, we ain’t just playin games ⭕️🙌🏽 pic.twitter.com/ghZWcEZb6Y— Dr. David Surratt (@DrDavidSurratt) September 23, 2020
The OU Esports Club prides itself on developing these other subjects, often known as our pillars. These pillars include News and Media, Fundraising, Streaming Production, Shoutcasting, Community, and Leadership. Sooner Esports passionately believes that collegiate esports cannot thrive without the pillars. Without them, esports programs will fail to emulate the real job opportunities that exist in esports and they will not be prepared for the work.
This philosophy has been in mind since the founding of the club. Students Jack “JackLovesLamp” Count and Alex “AgentA2” Tu developed these foundational pillars with Aguilar. They found that many students loved gaming, and as such, wanted programming and events surrounding that. However, to do so, they would need to develop a sustainable system that was more than just competitive gaming. Using their experience, Count and Tu went on to help create GetRECt, an esports company organizing tournaments in Oklahoma. The path Count and Tu led after college highlights the importance of non-competitive aspects of esports and gaming in the collegiate space.
OU Esports’ current President, Jasmine Graves was one of the first to join. “I saw a flyer on a board at Walker when I was a freshman,” said Graves, “I love gaming, so I wanted to help develop the gaming and esports culture at OU.”
That desire to foster the gaming spirit and culture at OU led to President Graves pushing further for administration at the university to accept and eventually endorse the club. On the recent decision, Graves said, “OU helping us expand academically means they’re listening to what their students want… [They’re] helping open the door to so many opportunities in gaming and esports for their students.”
Esports can even be a determining factor in where students choose to go for college. Zachary Satz, current Marketing Director for the OU Esports Club, wrote about his meeting with Aguilar at a gaming conference. Satz was able “to formally discuss esports, along with the leadership he had brought.” This meeting, he said, ultimately “helped solidify [his] choice to come to OU.”
Since joining the club, Satz has loved his time at OU, and he finds his work rewarding and challenging. “The biggest challenge is definitely keeping up with gaming memes and trends,” He said, discussing his role in marketing with the club, “with memes and fun posts, it feels like you sort of have to read the room.” These skills, he hopes, will eventually transfer to a job in Esports – perhaps now to a job within esports at OU.
Besides serving the OU, the organization looks to serve all Oklahomans. When asked what he thinks the club does best, Director Satz wrote that “the biggest real-world impact the club has is giving back to the community.” The OU Esports Club regularly runs fundraising events, such as our most recent one helping Make-a-Wish Oklahoma.
In addition to this, the organization has hosted or participated in events to raise funds for Covid-19 relief and the non-profit Extra Life. OU Esports also plans to partner with sponsors to continue efforts to help the local community while helping provide OU students with practicum experience, with more details coming soon in our Discord.
While this may seem overwhelming at first, President Graves had this to say to students hesitant to join and get involved: Start with the Discord, where it is okay to lurk, and ease yourself into it. “We know that some gamers are introverted, so we don’t want to put any pressure on anyone,” She said, ensuring that the club seeks to take care of all of their members no matter the anxieties, “If you ever want to talk or participate, then you can do it when you’re comfortable.”
All this is only the beginning, and there is so much to cover in our history and who OU Esports is currently. Due to this, Sooner Esports is currently planning OU XP 2.0, a follow-up documentary to OU XP to serve as an update and a better understanding of the future.
The club would also like to thank everyone for their continued support through these strange times. Stay well and stay safe.