This is our master directory of programs with the department of Esports & Co-Curricular Innovation housed within the Division of Student Affairs at The University of Oklahoma. As of Fall 2022, we have six(6) different programs we facilitate aimed at creating a path to industry mentality while promoting students to getting involved if they chose to. This page will outline leadership for each program and bios from students within them while also providing direct linking to a further deep dive of each area of interest.
OUR PROGRAMS OVERVIEW
HOW WE GOT HERE
In Fall 2016, R&D began in developing gaming and esports culture out of the department of Information Technology by Mike “Moog” Aguilar, the now current director of our department. Through this research he discovered several amazing initial students who would become the champions and founders of what you are reading about today. After years of advocacy, strategic planning, and student driven fundraising, The Division of Student Affairs within The University of Oklahoma formally started to elevate the topic and effort to a departmental state in Fall of 2020 from it’s humble grassroots student org origins. Finally, in Spring of 2022 named it’s first full time director and started to accelerate development towards more funding, physical resources, and more. To see further historical documentation head over to our About Us page on ou.edu.
RIVALRIES, COMPETITION, AND CHAMPIONSHIPS OH MY!! (INTERCOLLEGIATE COMPETITION)
To kick off our primary focus we researched tournaments in the industry that have collegiate only focus and offer prize pools that paid through scholarship. We are currently entering into six different titles across 16 teams with student, faculty, and alumni coaching sprinkled throughout. We are also enforcing wellness-based activities to teach balance as well as ensuring our student competitors maintain a healthy academic GPA to boot. This topic, while at the top, is one we knew was the easy one. Not in the sense to compete and rank highly, but to find the energy to create teams and field them all while wearing the venerable OU interlocking logo on their chest. BOOMER SOONER!!
We have been competing now since Spring 2018 and have hosted a bedlam event on our campus with Oklahoma State University and are collaborating with multiple other universities, governing bodies, and well-established businesses to bring the Sooner strength to this new industry.
One of the biggest challenges in what people are used to in analog sports is having standard tournaments and matches we’re all accustomed too. Like NCAA Final Four, NFL’s Super Bowl, or the MLB’s World Series. These type of events are all coming as an inevitable milestone towards more mainstream acceptance and formalization. Tespa, one of the tournament organizers and governance providers, put their national Overwatch collegiate finals in the Fiesta Bowl now and we’ve heard some pretty solid rumors of another big household name bringing a brand new tournament for the Spring 2019 semester.
TELL THE STORY! (MEDIA & NEWS DEPARTMENT)
Our first cluster of programs falls under journalistic energies and we broke them into three segments. We looked at the macro view of the industry and came to the realization that Michael Jordan would not have been as popular if hadn’t been broadcast, the subject of talk shows, interviewed, and featured in marketing and branding campaigns. So we set off to become our own biggest horn tooters and educate anyone and everyone willing to listen by putting pen to paper, face to camera, and mouse to game. We will become our own ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Monday Night Football, NCAA Final Four, and more!
The first is responsible for the main purpose of this website which is to advocate for our cause through a healthy and consistent display of articles, reviews, opinion pieces, event coverage, and more. It is the primary force behind the Sooner Esports website. They function as the educational piece of our organization to showcase who we are as a community, culture, and Sooners in esports. This program is called “Media & News” and is designed to infinitely scale up and down based on student interest and talent regardless of discipline. This program flexes many of the same disciplines that would be taught in core journalism disciplines.
The second program is called “Shoutcasting” and the best way to describe it is the analytic and entertaining sportscasting team you would see during the broadcast of your favorite live sporting event. It is comprised of students, regardless of official discipline, who are interested in providing real-time analysis with play by play announcing or supplementing with color casting and doing after-match reviews. This program will help develop a team capable of covering all the titles we officially develop for intercollegiate competition both physically and online through various streaming services, leveraging streaming services like Twitch, social media channels, and this website we already have all the platform pieces in place. This opportunity we also open up to OU alumni to be part of this team.
The third and final program is “Streaming Entertainment”. This program capitalizes on an influencer-style livestream of the gaming industry. You will find members of OU Esports playing video games in real-time and interacting with their viewers. Our stream will also include our version ESPN’s SportsCenter, a show that reports esports & gaming news, and variety programming that cater to subcultures in gaming – from top-tier Overwatch gameplay to cosplay creations, there will be something for every gamer. This opportunity is not just for OU students and faculty, as we will allow OU alumni to participate in this program soon.
SOONER NATION! (COMMUNITY DEPARTMENT)
This department is the lifeblood of the entire organization. It has two main focuses. First, cater to OU students and develop engaging programming for OU students to enjoy whether that is a casual board game social mixer, an Overwatch tournament, or a watch party for one of our teams or a global event, this team facilitates the event coordination for all of that. Leveraging a middle management role called the “Ambassador” we are able to program for a wide variety of demographics and not just our core intercollegiate competition energies.
The other side of our community developments focuses on outreach to K-12, at-risk youth, and the general public. This can look like programming at a local library to use gaming as a means to connect and inspire youth, collaborating with K-12 school systems to develop recruitment pipelines, or putting on a big production in an eBedlam rivalry to draw in support from the Sooner Nation!
THE TIP OF THE SWORD (LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT)
To tie everything together, we need strong leadership. The goal from the advisors is to create peers through mentorship to grow and empower students to take ownership and stand toe to toe with industry leaders. We do this by allowing students to grow and evolve each of the programs mentioned above organically as our developments mature and the industry changes. Students that are part of our “Leadership Development” are put in direct contact with industry leaders, sit in the conversations with partnership opportunities, and help us collectively push our agenda forward.
Within the leadership development, we have fundraising, finance, top-level administration, and social media and marketing strategic planning. Our staff, faculty, and alumni advisors are also getting connected into the industry and are becoming influencers across the landscape to help pave the way not just for OU, but for as many logical segments as possible.
OTHER PROGRAMS (CAMPS)
We are excited to offer camps! Whether it is journalism opportunities in broadcast, community planning logistics, academic opportunity awareness, or competitive energy we want to not only tell the world but also allow those interested to come along for the ride. We will offer camps throughout the calendar year focusing on Summer and Winter school breaks. This program leverages the collective resource pool of all the primary programs above.
As you can see, this is much more than just playing video games. Our goals are to build professionals to support this exploding industry as it continues to gain massive momentum as we stay ahead of the mainstream curve. All of this while advocating for our interests and adding value in community programming, curriculum evolution, and tangible networking to grow real leadership for an industry that needs more and more infrastructure and sustainability. There are more and more resources on the analytics of all of this and documentaries popping up highlighting different elements of this massive topic. If we sparked your interest then please take some time and explore it further or reach out to us and our Lead Advisor would love to share insight and perspective!
Welcome to the next evolution of the University of Oklahoma intercollegiate competition, campus life, and the next expansion for fans of the Sooner Nation!
Do you want to help our cause and support our programs? We will soon have a direct way for you to do so with tax incentives to boot! Stay tuned for a reveal of our very own OU Foundation account for direct contributions.
Students in this pillar represent the tip of the sword in our development. The students that comprise our leadership team showcase personal initiative and high energy as they head each one of these individual programs and are put in direct contact with peer university programs, industry businesses and professionals, and present to other administrative bodies in and outside of the University of Oklahoma.