Orange Coast College may be looking into funding an esports program after its Overwatch team has had several high-profile performances in competitions.
The world of competitive online multiplayer gaming is becoming increasingly popular at a professional and collegiate level, with projections by Business Insider reporting an economic revenue stream of over $1 billion.
Aaron Boyd, 21, a business major at OCC, said the reason he enrolled at Coast as opposed to Irvine Valley College was because of the Overwatch team established by computer science major Nick Caravaggio, 23. Both students, on top of their passion for gaming, seek to cash in on the booming esports business by going pro.
But they said they would like to see more assistance from the school in achieving their goals.
“I think that if there was an esports program it would help [the team] pop off even harder,” Boyd said.
And the college aims to help current and future students capitalize on these goals.
“What [OCC] wants to do is to support any of our students’ endeavors on what they would like to do.” Juan Gutierrez, director of Marketing and Public Relations and adviser to the Overwatch team said.
While the school has had talks about creating a funded esports department, no concrete solutions have been found on how to implement it on campus.
“It’s an avenue I see a lot of potential in,” Doug Bennett, executive director of the Orange Coast College Foundation said. “We’ve talked with the esports club and had discussions about where esports would fit in best.”
Jason Kehler, athletics director, said that esports had been discussed at Orange Empire Conference meetings but not within the OCC Athletics department, although, the Technology department has expressed interest.
Funding and administrative oversight are in addition to what Caravaggio said the Overwatch team truly needs from an esports program — facilities.
“It would be ideal to dedicate a room to be involved somehow with esports,” Caravaggio said. “[We] would love a room with the ability to do competitive six-person games.”
Schools like the University of Utah and UC Irvine are examples of successfully funded esports programs. UC Irvine has built an esports arena on campus for students to rent time on high-performance gaming computers for $3 per hour and for home-game performances from their Overwatch and League of Legends teams.
Based on financial reports by UCI, after sponsorships, scholarships and other operational expenses, the program still manages to make over $7,000 annually for the school while adding paid jobs for students.