COLUMBUS, Ohio—Ohio State Associate Professor of Engineering Education Deborah Grzybowski has watched the business marketing and viewership of esports skyrocket in recent years.

  • Ohio State is among dozens of universities across the country working hard to keep pace with the billion-dollar esports industry
  • While gaming communities have been around for some time, OSU is now offering classes, and next fall, a degree in the industry
  • The gaming industry is estimated to be worth $150 billion in 2019

She thinks it can work at Ohio State University, and she's helped develop an undergrad major in esports and game design.

“The viewership is greater than combined, basketball, hockey, soccer. So, people don't understand how many people are really interested and involved in esports,” said Grzybowski. 

Ohio State already has 40 students enrolled in the class that meets every Tuesday and Thursday.

The major is expected to roll out next fall with three different tracks.

One track is meant for the creation of games, another for use in the medical field and the third is for folks who are looking to coach other gamers.

“If it's an area that you love and are passionate about, you're going to do great in your job, and that's what I hope for them all,” said Grzybowski. 

Computer Science major Jimmy Bauer is the president of Buckeye Gaming Collective, a student organization comprised of 750 members.

He says several years of hard work and collaboration among five colleges within Ohio State, along with passion of the Buckeye Gaming Collective and Office of Student Life, have made this project move forward.

“Esports, especially at the collegiate level, is just sort of starting to get over the hill, and become a really big thing. A lot of esports pros are young, so they need that collegiate background to ground themselves and sort of form the team structure that isn't always there,” said Bauer. 

The university's state-of-the-art esports facility, located in the second floor of Lincoln Tower, is expected to open later in the month.

It will have 80 spots for gaming computers, consoles and virtual reality systems, as well as broadcast booths.

And even though Bauer plans to graduate next fall, he's excited the esports program is finally rolling out.

“The space is going to open and hopefully be packed every day and people are going to actually start talking about it because it’s going to have a presence,” said Bauer. 

In a month, Ohio State will hold tryouts for its first official varsity competitive team with hopes of facing other colleges across the country. 

If you'd like to be a part of Ohio State's competitive esports program, you can complete their online form.