Our Pillars & Programs - Overview
Our pillars are designed to serve multiple purposes while still staying agile and innovating new opportunities. Whether it is creating engagement for students, fans, or employees, or competing on a national stage, we have a diverse spread of opportunities that are both being built in K-12 and working in the pro sector.
In 2019, Director of Esports & Co-Curricular Innovation, Mike "Moog" Aguilar shared the very structure with the world in his TED Talk and challenged higher education as a whole to do more with the topic of esports and gaming development. It has never been about having esports, however, it is about what you are doing with it.
How We Structured Our Pillars of Development
- Gaming Culture & The Student Voice: At no time will gaming cultural sensibilities be aggressively shifted. This will allow us to stay true to the very core audience we are building this for. Evolution over revolution! This means students will build equity, be able to take ownership of this part of the Sooner Nation, and above all always have a place to call home in gaming at The University of Oklahoma. Students are the most valuable resource PERIOD and their voice will ALWAYS be heard!
- The OU Mission: We referenced program descriptions, publicly available syllabi, and university mission to sculpt the roles, policies, and standards to adhere to as our operational norms since day one. As OU become more supportive and aware we'd already be speaking the same language with the same considerations and intention. This has set us up to explore so many preexisting topics on campus both to add value back to them but to also elevate them through our engagement focuses.
- The Gaming & Esports Industry: Creating opportunity is what we wanted to be all about. This means that we keep a pulse on industry trends, look at the jobs in the space, and watch the trajectory of brands in the space. This allows us to be the internal advisor to all things esports to OU, stay relevant and plugged in to external opportunities, and diversify the offerings we created since day one. Many people initially thought this was purely about playing video games, but in actuality that is only the common ground of interest. There is so much more than that to this topic.
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.
The community pillar focuses on ways to give back as well as engaging OU’s population as well as the region. We aim to find a method to cater to all gamers regardless of their diverse interests. From MOBAs (Massively Online Battle Arena) and FPS (First Person Shooter), to fighting games and cards, every game is just as unique as its player-base. We also look at opportunities to develop programming regionally by fostering events with the public or with students K-12.
The Media & News pillar houses the storytellers of our development and is featured on Sooneresports.org. The students that comprise our Media & News team showcase who we are in articles, reviews, opinion pieces, debates, and event coverage. We flex our media-centric focus to gain access to events with press passes and first-hand experiences. We partner with developers and manufacturers to review hardware and software to give opinions. We talk about trends in the industry and showcase the values we have as students at OU in the diverse gaming industries.
Shoutcasting, or sportscasting, is the esports answer to commentary during competition and events. Have you tried watching a football game without commentary? It’s just not quite as engaging, is it? Nope! In the spirit of our drive to be our own esports entertainment powerhouse, we are developing announcers for real-time play by play announcing with heavy analytic breakdown, color casting, and after action review emphasis. Why? Because the industry is hiring them, it helps our cause, and just like sports entertainment, we have to entertain.
Streaming Entertainment is the esports answer to growing fanbases, building a community, and showcasing entertainers that reflect on gaming and its subcultures. Think of our program as all the ancillary programming you see on live sports entertainment, such as talk shows, interviews, and high-tier gameplay. This program works as the other half of our Shoutcasting Program to provide daily content. Shoutcasting represents official coverage of our sanctioned intercollegiate matches, scrims, and competitions while streaming entertainment is casual live streams produced by various members of the organization. From Super Mario Brothers speedruns to video game recipe recreations, our streamers are free to use their creativity to produce unique and interesting content. We always have new ideas in the works, such as a Sooner Esports podcast, and new students that join this program.
Our Intercollegiate Competition pillar is focused on developing teams and individuals for direct competition in various events, leagues, and tournaments. While the lack of governance from known entities is currently limited, every school at this moment is developing their own standards for eligibility referencing their own best practices, governance they are familiar to, and the rulesets of the competitions they are entering into. We are trying our best to standardize all requirements across the board with room for exceptions when they logically come up.
Sooner Esports functions as the practicuum and execution space for 3 of our programs. Media & News, Streaming Entertainment, and Production work can all be viewed here as we turn our passions into documentation and advocacy through articles, opinion pieces, live broadcast, reviews, and story telling. Additionally, you will find the rosters of our offiical intercollegiate esports teams that represent OU formally in national and global competition for prestige and scholarship awards.
Introducing The University of Oklahoma Esports Club Esports Camp portal! One of our missions has always been to advocate for esports topics across all of our developments and energies. We are pleased to debut our 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 and will reveal more about our recipe for success to campers!