Game design at Miami is highly ranked, and a new major, games + simulation, is bringing more students to this growing area.
Game design at Miami is highly ranked, and a new major, games + simulation, is bringing more students to this growing area. Photo: Jeff Sabo

Miami teams win Ohio esports battle; academic program grows

Two of Miami University’s collegiate esports teams – Overwatch and League of Legends – won statewide competitions in the National Collegiate Esports (NCE) Ohio LAN (local area network) in late October.

On the academic side, Miami’s game design program is ranked 11th in the nation and best in Ohio this year by The Princeton Review. As of this fall, students are also enrolling in Miami’s new games + simulation major.

Why? “The video game industry alone is larger than Hollywood and music combined," said Glenn Platt, C. Michael Armstrong Professor of Emerging Technology in Business & Design and professor of marketing and interactive media studies.

"Anything that's got points, levels, rewards – things we use every day," said Platt. "Those are all game mechanics. The dashboard in your car that tells you how you're doing relative to other drivers. Those are game mechanics. If we train students to see the world as a collection of different game opportunities and game mechanics, they will be ready for jobs in areas like marketing, promotion, psychology and education."

Esports@Miami received seed funding last spring as a Boldly Creative idea to build on Miami’s status as a top college for esports, working toward the following five goals:

  • To build and support the first major esports curriculum in the country.
  • To foster new research and to build an academic community around esports.
  • To expand the reach of Miami’s varsity and club esports.
  • To develop physical spaces so that esports can thrive at Miami.
  • To generate scholarships for esports players and for students looking to study esports.
This fall, faculty are working toward those goals, including these efforts:
  • A pilot of one of the certificate classes is being taught this semester and three courses are scheduled for spring semester.
  • Faculty are talking to scholars in programs across the country and Europe regarding research.
  • Miami now has five varsity esports teams.
  • Consultants are assisting with goals and tactics for new space and curriculum.

The varsity esports program, launched in spring 2016 by Miami’s Armstrong Interactive Media Studies (AIMS) program, is believed to have been the first of its kind at a top tier university.

There are a reported 175 colleges and universities that offer varsity esports programs. ranks Miami No. 3 for best college varsity esports program and ranks Miami’s program No. 1.