This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

EDMOND, Okla. – While sports is often a beloved part of college, a local university is now taking part in a popular competitive club.

The University of Central Oklahoma is now offering two credit-bearing courses in esports, and will soon build out a former bookstore as a gaming arena.

Esports is a form of competition using video games and connecting people from around the world through gaming. So far, the National Association of Collegiate Esports reports having more than 130 member schools, 3,000 student-athletes and offers $15 million in esports scholarships.

While UCO is not a NACE member yet, students are already competing at top levels.

“This rising interest and engagement from our students tell us how to support their drive and enterprise.  Not only can we support our current students through this initiative, we will open our doors to prospective e-athletes and invite them to join our campus community as well,” said UCO President Patti Neuhold-Ravikumar.

Over the next year, UCO will begin renovating the former Thompson’s Book Store to serve as an esports gaming arena. The 5,675-square-foot space will house more than 45 high-end gaming stations, fiber optics with greater bandwidth and lower latency, and high refresh rate monitors.

Organizers say the facility will allow UCO to host regional and national competitions, and provide academic space for esports courses.

“Esports is about much more than gaming and hand-eye coordination. Esports can help to develop critical thinking, strategy making, teamwork and communication skills. And best of all, esports transcends boundaries of gender, age and physical ability. UCO is proud to offer a level playing field for our students to enter, “Neuhold-Ravikumar added.