Move over football jocks, college recruiters are looking for some sun-deprived gamers that have dedicated every night to League of Legends. That’s right, you can now not only play video games on college teams, but some colleges will pay your tuition, so you’ll do it. I hardly believed it when I first found out about gaming scholarships, but I researched, and it is very real and makes a whole lot of sense.
Esports is the official term for competitive gaming. Which might bring to mind things like Madden NFL games if you’ve never heard it before, but no. Esports is just a multiplayer video game played on teams competitively. It’s a professional thing happening now, and it’s viral. Newzoo–a site that focuses on eSport data–estimated 2016 eSport saw revenues over $493 million. Which is why methinks colleges are greedily grabbing at a chance to hop on this new sport. They see the opportunity to make some money.
The most popular games played in eSports are League of Legends, Overwatch, Hearthstone, Dota 2, and Counter Strike: Global Offensive. Don’t get too excited if you fancy yourself a skilled amateur at one of those games; it’s hard to get a scholarship with all the competition. It’s no different than traditional sports scholarships in that sense. That means you need to be the very best of the best. Also, limited schools are doing this so far. However, the number of colleges offering varsity eSport teams and scholarships is rapidly increasing every year.
Check out this list of colleges with eSport scholarships, from The Next Level (an eSport news site):
That’s a list with a grand total of forty colleges offering gaming scholarships. Most of those having started just this year–holy moly! Just imagine what next year will bring if 2017 saw twenty-eight new universities offering college scholarships. There are also about ten schools this year that promoted their eSport teams to varsity status.
Now, let’s take a look at number thirty-eight on the list above–Stephen’s College in Missouri. You may or may not realize this is an all girls school. The very first all girls school to have a varsity eSports. They will have a twelve person Overwatch team, which will be the first all girl’s collegiate eSport team–if you didn’t realize already. Which is pretty neat! Collegiate eSports is dominated by men, so it’s nice to see an all girls school throw in.
Varsity eSports is treated about the same as other varsity sports. They have an arena complete with anything they could need–computers, keyboards, headsets, and mouses. They also have directors to oversee the team and other staff. These college students practice six days a week, for eight hours a day. Wow. Which means some colleges even have workout and nutrition plans for the team members–maybe to ease the parental concern over their kids coming back from college looking like they’ve been on bed rest for months.
However, varsity eSports are not exactly the same as other varsity sports. For instance, the teams are playing games that are owned by a company–which means someone may need to be paid for the intellectual property. Another difference is college players are not prohibited from also playing professionally…for now at least. As this sport gains traction, I wouldn’t be surprised if more rules aren’t developed. Mainly because people are trying to create a national affiliation for eSports much like the NCAA. It’s already been created even, the NACE (or NAC eSports).
This is all kind of cool, getting college paid for through gaming. It doesn’t end there even. Some companies are now offering scholarships for eSports. The video game retailer KontrolFreek is now offering small scholarships for eSports. This is exciting times! I feel down right giddy about people getting to play varsity video games and having their college paid for because of it. New things like this always have me flashing back to science fiction movies like Surrogates. Yeah, eSports is one step closer to humans living through virtual reality to me. Not that I think that’s a bad thing. Although let’s not forget Elon Musk of Tesla just warned us that Artificial Intelligence is a huge threat. Okay okay, I’m getting way ahead of myself. Let me tuck my crazy back in.
You guys getting excited about eSports now? Or, maybe you already were! Well, the professional North American finals are just around the corner! The Quarterfinals are August 20-21, the semifinals follow the next weekend on August 26-27, and the finals happen September 2-3. This is the League of Legends professional eSports to be exact. Check out the details here, including team info. If you are interested in watching then check out this comprehensive guide for doing so. Although I’ll dumb it down, they pretty much just tell you to watch it on YouTube or Twitch, on any device that can get YouTube or Twitch–haha.
I wish I could tell you guys when and where to check out collegiate eSports, but there is a serious lack of information in that regard. I’ll keep my ears to the ground to hear the when the news on that is out. Hopefully, it’s soon considering the fall semester for college is starting up this month.
What are your thoughts on this?