The esports program at the University of Cincinnati is comprised of several initiatives that span community, competition, and academics. This list of frequently asked questions and answers will continue to grow as new initiatives launch.
1) What is esports?
Esports are organized, team-based, video game competitions in a global industry valued in billions of dollars per year. Twitch and YouTube Gaming have distributed billions of viewing hours. Esports includes competitive game titles such as Rocket League, Valorant, and League of Legends.
Esports are recognized as competitive sports and carry many of the same characteristics of traditional sports. Skill and talent, sportsmanship, teamwork, organized play, a vibrant community, and prizing are all core components of competitive esports titles.
Esports foster an inclusive environment regardless of physical stature or expressed gender identity, making the experience enjoyable for students. Esports also offers real applications beyond gaming, providing valuable hands-on skills and personal development to students that are beneficial to one's career during and after college.
2) Are esports considered a varsity sport at UC?
Esports at UC is currently not considered a varsity sport, however students participating in officially sanctioned competition are recognized as student athletes. Varsity sports at UC are organized and managed through Athletics, while competitive esports titles are overseen by Club Sports (SALD).
3) What is the story behind esports at UC?
UC is home to one of the oldest esports communities in the country, the first club-sport in the country, and has hosted the largest collegiate esports event in the Midwest in October 2015. The connection between UC and the CID gives the Esports program enormous leverage to connect students, organizations, and brands in ways other programs cannot.
The UC Esports program fosters community, competition, and academics. Students can come together over their shared passion for esports to compete, train, and engage together. Additionally, the UC Esports program provides a home for all things esports: the UC Esports Innovation Lab. This lab is the home for practice, competition, events, and community. Lastly, the UC Esports program serves as a catalyst for student development, providing opportunities for personal and professional development with partners within the business community and the Cincinnati Innovation District.
4) What is the difference between the UC Esports Club and the UC Esports program?
Esports clubs and organizations have existed on UC campus for over 10 years, with thousands of members and alumni identifying as part of the community. Gaming and esports clubs are the heartbeat of student activity and engagement for gaming on campus, and any student interested in connecting with others who share similar interests - regardless of if they are esports titles or not, should consider joining a club or exploring the online community through Discord. The UC Esports program represents officially recognized and sanctioned esports activities at the University level - including academics and official competition. In addition, the UC Esports program owns and oversees key properties such as the Esports Innovation Lab, broadcasting and talent development initiative, and more.
5) How can I join a competitive team?
Competitive teams at UC are currently overseen by Club Sports (SALD) and are supported by the UC Esports Club through Discord. Tryouts for teams are conducted in the fall and spring, and require a student to be enrolled full-time, on campus, and in good academic standing.
6) What are the expectations of competing at UC?
Students who join a competitive team understand that they represent the University of Cincinnati and the Bearcat Nation. Students will compete in officially sanctioned national leagues and tournaments, including online and in-person events. Students are expected to commit to weekly training at the Esports Innovation Lab, communicate and collaborate with their team members, and live the principles of sportsmanship, intentional practice, and being best-in-class. In the future, scholarships, apparel, and support will be available for members of competitive teams.
7) How can I be involved in the UC Esports program if I do not compete?
The UC Esports program supports student development of all kinds, including outside of competition. Students can participate in the Broadcasting & Production initiative to cultivate skills for personal and professional benefit. The Esports program also facilitates academic opportunities such as featuring guest speakers, industry panelists, and other educational benefits. Students additionally have the opportunity to interact directly with our partners for work-study and other professional opportunities that prepare you for success as an eventual graduate and alumni. Lastly, students can apply to work directly with and for the Esports Innovation Lab, gaining valuable experience in esports and facility operations, broadcasting, and event management.
8) Is there a cost to use the Esports Innovation Lab?
No, the Esports Innovation Lab and all components and services are provided free of charge to all students and members of the Bearcat community. Prior to 6:00pm EST, there is a parking fee for those who opt to park at the 1819 Innovation Hub parking lot. Street parking is free, and lot parking is likewise free after 6:00pm EST.
9) What games can I play in the Esports Innovation Lab?
The Esports Innovation Lab will open supporting all esports titles that students currently compete in. This list includes all Riot Games titles, all Activision Blizzard titles, Fortnite and Rocket League, Rainbow 6 Siege, and more. In addition, the Esports Innovation Lab will feature games on Battle.net, Riot Games, Steam. Lastly, the Esports Innovation Lab will have a console library that will support titles on the Nintendo Switch and Microsoft Xbox.
10) Are educational components being built out for esports at UC?
The University of Cincinnati is currently designing a GAMES certificate that will be available to undergraduate students in the Digital Media Collaborative (A&S, CCM, DAAP, CECH). This certificate will be available to students in Fall 2023. The Esports Innovation Lab will also serve as a lab-based classroom for faculty to teach courses in.
11) When will the Esports Innovation Lab open?
The Esports Innovation Lab will open in August 2022 in tandem with the start of Fall classes.