Universities no longer wonder how they adapt to the sports ecosystem. While some schools are focusing on launching a sports team, many are simultaneously working on developing the next generation of workers who will build and grow the gaming and sports industry to new heights.
The University of Maryland (UMD) is one of many higher education institutions that has put resources behind its gaming initiatives by opening the Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Engineering in 2019. Leading donor, Brendan Iribe, attended the UMD in 1997-1998 before leaving to start his career in video games. After years of experience, he co-founded the virtual reality company Oculus, which Facebook acquired for about $ 2 billion in 2014. It is pioneers like Iribe who are beginning to return to the community who helped awaken the his curiosity for the current generation to flourish.
Two UMD students who have benefited from the Iribe Center are Galen Stetsyuk and Mikhail Sorokin, who met at the school. “It was more than Iribe’s donation that sparked my passion for virtual reality (VR) space,” Stetsyuk said. “It was a chance to meet people like Brendan Iribe, who provided us with a network to access the equipment and resources needed to launch our game, M-PLEX, a multiplayer VR tank fighting video game in development. So far, the team has raised $ 1.2 million in two rounds of fundraising.
Not to be missed, the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) has its own incubator space called MAGIC, a university-wide research center focused on media, arts, games, interaction and creativity, founded in 2013. According to RIT director of the Simone Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Richard DeMartino, “one thing that sets us apart is that MAGIC is an independent center directly related to interactive games; including movies, animations and software. ”MAGIC has its own outlets with the ability to create games and deliver them through MAGIC’s infrastructure, allowing students to earn credit per course for their work. “As one of the oldest COOP educational schools in the country,” DeMartino added, “90% of our students are required to have a‘ residency program ’and game development is very attractive these days.”
Ben Garvey and Harry McCardell, co-owners of Great Lake Gaming (GLG), a company focused on conducting virtual and face-to-face gaming events across the country, saw MAGIC as their creative sandbox. “Even though I came to RIT to study coding, it wasn’t on the cards,” Garvey said. However, instead of quitting, he changed his career to game design and entrepreneurship, “which saved my college career.”
Garvey is following in the footsteps of another RIT graduate who barely graduated, but returned to RIT to donate $ 50 million, a week after its launch, Datto (a data protection company), sold to Vista Equity Partners for $ 1.5 billion. According to Garvey, “this donation allowed me to spend a year GAP to launch GLG and now we have five RIT interns and the opening of our first physical space in downtown Rochester (NY) is just around the corner.”
Drexel University, another technology-focused institute, is also focused on keeping its emerging businesses in the local economy. Pennsylvania-based Entrepreneurship Game Studio, EGS, was initially founded in 2014 thanks to a $ 200,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. Dr. Frank Lee, the director of EGS, believes he can “create a mini-factory for gaming startups where Drexel can advise students on the development of their gaming companies and get one of them to reach out to the eastern part of the PA “. Beyond building a gaming industry center in PA, Lee really focuses on entrepreneurship. “The vision of the game study is to develop the entrepreneurial mindset that we believe can be taught and that is a critical tool for the future job.”
No matter the educational institute, games and sports are here to stay in higher education. Creating a place to fail quickly and move forward with an idea is just one way U.S.-based schools have continued to push the boundaries of the game.