Electronic Sports, a concept that started in the last decade and some attribute it to the rise in sponsorship for gaming competitions and the fact that regardless of country, language, religion or ethnicity, everyone loves to game. Unfortunately, colleges for long haven’t taken eSports seriously enough. Those engaging in this kind of activity were looked down upon but that’s all changed thanks to few pioneering universities, high schools and colleges.
Yet another university adds competitive video gaming to their athletics programs. This time it is the turn of a private liberal arts university from Ohio that is offering scholarships and a place at their prestigious college for select individuals who engage in eSports.
Mary Ann Gawelek, the President of Lourdes University assumed office last July and has ever since pushed her agenda to include eSports program. Her basis for including eSports in the University’s athletics program is that eSports requires critical thinking, mental ability and team building exercises. Basically, you have to be competitive and willing to learn in order to achieve success and this goes well with liberal arts education. There is also talks that some universities in the United States may start offering online bachelor degrees specifically related to eSports. eSports already have tournaments held all over the world with teams playing games such as Hearthstone, Dota 2 and League of Legend (which is one of the highest paying eSports games and available for anyone to play if they have league of legends accounts) among other games.
With this latest development, Lourdes will not participate in eSports competitions held by the National Association of Collegiate eSports, which was formed recently in 2016. To do so they plan on recruiting a total of 60 eSports athletes in the next couple of years but have clarified that they will refrain from first-person shooter genres.
eSports Scholarships And Growth of eSports in Universities
Playing video games will get you nowhere! Haven’t we all heard it at one point in our lives? How about, would it not be better studying in your free time? Things have changed and today, those who spent their free time gaming, honing their eSporting skills have a lot more opportunities. Educational institutions from all over the world have begun eSports programs where they accept students on scholarships for their expertise in specific gaming titles, such as Overwatch or Fortnite or genres. Here’s the complete list of top 7 global Universities that accept eSport athletes in their academic programs.
UCI – University of California
It was March 2016 when UCI announced its League of Legends eSports scholarship program. This made UCI the first public university to do so and the new scholarship program began its intake in the fall of 2016. This specific program is currently being supported by Riot Games along with a brand new PC gaming café in the premises. The café mimics the setup of Korean PC joints, thus offering a plus League of Legends experience. There will obviously be other games available and together, UCI and Riot Games aims at improving student interest in eSports on the campus.
Robert Morris University
Robert Morris University is in fact the first college in the US to start its own eSports program. This university is a private non-profit entity nestled in Chicago and it currently provides a huge scholarship fund for professional gamers who wish to pursue their education too. They engage mostly in League of Legends gaming and under their scholarship program, half of their boarding costs, room and tuition costs are covered but as add-ons they get professional coaching and access to the in-house facilities for gaming.
UPIKE – University of Pikeville
A private liberal arts university out of Kentucky, this University provides eSports students with good GPA scores and a gaming background scholarships. They need to continue their GPA scores, attend mandatory practice session and train for competitions, much like actual athletes. In order to attract the best students from across the country, representatives of the university make regular trips to high schools, arranging practice matches with potential students and even browsing game ratings and rankings online.
Columbia College – USA
Columbia College came late to the eSports party but towards the end of 2016, they finally launched their scholarship program for the same. They offer money for eSports athletes and are in the process of converting their old soccer locker room into a fully functional gaming hub.
GVS – Norway
The Garnes Vidaregaande Skule in Norway will actually include eSports in their curriculum. Basically, students in high school will have to study eSports nearly five hours per week and the program is intended to work on focus predominantly through the use of games. All students who enroll for this course will have access to the gaming rigs of the college that are packed with GTX 980Ti graphics card among other things, just so they have the best possible gaming experience, complete with all the Fortnite Pro Settings, which you are almost guaranteed to be playing, to dominate the competition.
AGS – Sweden
Arlanda Gymnasiet School from Sweden started the eSports trend way back in 2015 when they took in total of 7 students just so they could enter such competitions. It is their vision to enable students through education and yet provide them support to continue eSports. This ways, if the latter does not span out as a viable career choice, they still have their education to fall back on. It is also the hope of the school that with their educational programs and experience in eSports, students who don’t break into the professional gaming circuit will be able to find employment in some other respect in the gaming community.
Such stories of universities and colleges beginning eSports ventures plus establishing scholarships are truly encouraging for us gamers. Imagine a future where eSports athletes are not just accepted but also revered for their accomplishments. College football, basketball and other such physical sports already receive a lot of eyeballs and attention providing, athletes a chance to shine while pursuing their education. Now eSports athletes too have the same chance.