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Students concentrate on a match during an esports tournament at the OSU esports arena in the Student Union.
Students concentrate on a match during an esports tournament at the OSU esports arena in the Student Union.

OSU esports certificate garnering national acclaim

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Media Contact: Mack Burke | Associate Director of Media Relations | 405-744-5540 |

Sports media senior Jenna Murff didn’t really play video games growing up, outside of Mario Kart with her friends.

She didn’t come to Oklahoma State University for an esports career, but a new certificate piqued her interest. Murff knew nothing about esports before pursuing the certificate. However, she saw the industry’s growth and decided to try it out.

In the past few years, OSU has been making waves in collegiate esports, with ambitious plans to establish itself as a national leader in this rapidly growing field. Its certificate program has proven to be a success, with students like Murff crediting it with helping her earn a job in the esports industry.

Murff’s story exemplifies the diverse career opportunities available in esports beyond just professional gaming. The industry offers many potential career paths, from graphic design and event management to marketing and communications.

“When it came to my sophomore year and applying for internships, the esport certification got me recognized by ASA Entertainment,” Murff said. “They flagged my resume because I was the only person they had seen with esports experience.”

Now, Murff is the esports and content coordinator for the Super Girl Gamer Pro organization, which is owned by ASA Entertainment. She creates the graphics for its Twitch streams, helps recruit girls for the tournaments, answers questions and interacts with people on social media.

“The gaming industry is constantly growing, especially on the esports side, as more and more games are picked up to play competitively,” Murff said. “No matter what your interest is, what your skill is, you can find a job within that industry. I think within the next few years, management positions will be the most prevalent positions we’ll see start taking hold. I think we’ll see an evolution of people becoming more like traditional athletes, where they have agents and people who negotiate contracts on their behalf.”

The esports certificate is open to people of all experience, from those like Murff to those on the varsity esports team.

The OSU esports program has steadily grown since the certificate was introduced in 2021. With a vibrant esports arena, a certificate program and a dedicated club, OSU is already ahead of the curve, but university officials are determined to do even more.

“We wanted to be proactive and not reactive to the industry trend,” said Adam Barnes, associate director of the Student Union.

This forward-thinking approach led to the creation of the esports arena in 2021, which Barnes hopes will catalyze further growth.

Barnes said one of the biggest challenges is gaining recognition for esports as a legitimate academic and career path. He believes offering scholarships and developing degree programs will attract talented students and demonstrate the university’s commitment to this field.

Shaun Noll — manager of meeting and conference services for the Student Union, advisor to the Gamers of OSU club and manager of the esports arena — echoes this sentiment, highlighting the importance of scholarships in attracting top esports talent.

“Ultimately, it would be awesome to have scholarships to get those students looking at other places,” Noll said. “And we want to compete at a high level, especially in Power Five, where it’s not as common to have scholarships.”

Barnes and Noll also want to expand the program’s academic offerings, potentially developing a minor or even a major in esports. They said this would solidify OSU’s position as a leader in esports education and provide students with the specialized skills and knowledge they need to succeed in this growing field.

Shane NollJenna Murff
Shane Noll and Jenna Murff

Beyond academics, OSU is committed to fostering a thriving esports community on campus. The Gamers of OSU club provides a welcoming space for students to connect, compete and learn from each other. The club also organizes tournaments and events, further enriching the esports experience for students.

“Half of our leadership is made up of women,” Noll said. “We’re trying to crush the stigma that it’s a male-dominated sport because it’s really not. It’s just harder to get the women to come out and play. That’s been a huge push of ours.”

One student, Angélica Romines, will be graduating with her Master of Science in educational leadership from OSU in May 2024. She is creating an event to invite Indigenous students to get involved in esports. Noll said opening and inviting the space to all will help OSU’s esports footprint grow.

Barnes and Noll said OSU is currently wellpositioned to become a national leader in collegiate esports. With its commitment to academics, community building and cutting-edge facilities, OSU is creating an environment where students can thrive and pursue successful careers in this dynamic field.

“If you think there’s an opportunity somewhere, don’t be afraid to go and try it just because you think you don’t have the qualifications,” Murff said. “You can always gain the skills and learn more.

“Don’t be afraid to ask questions that will help you out. You just have to try it, and don’t be afraid.”

Photos by: Phil Shockley

Story by: Mak Vandruff | STATE Magazine

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