Will going to college for an eSports scholarship soon be a reality?

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hat if I told you video games can help you go to college? That’s right, the countless hours most young people spend honing their skills do not have to go to waste thanks to the rise of eSports programs in colleges. It is now possible to translate your video game achievements into real life achievements.

So what exactly are eSports? They are any organized multi-player video games competition. eSports involve individuals assembling is a stadium or an arena to compete in a sanctioned, broadly streamed, real-time, financially incentivized and widely attended tournaments.

eSports are not a new phenomenon; they have been around since the 70s. During those early days the competitions were about who could get the highest scores in games such as space invader, Pac-man, donkey Kong and space invader.

Thanks to technological advancements, video gaming has evolved and the support for such competitions has more than tripled. Currently globally renowned fortune 5 companies such as American Express, Coca-Cola and Virgin Mobile are generously sponsoring eSports teams. Gaming events are now being televised and some even have their own television channels.

In recent tournaments skilled video gamers or gaming teams can win enormous cash prizes- currently the highest recorded prize is a whopping $ 40 million.

Colleges are widely embracing eSports

Competitive video gaming is a growing medium thanks to advancement in video game and the growing popularity of eSports. Being a route that many expect to grow even further, learning institutions such as colleges have developed an interest in venturing into competitive gaming. Most colleges are now looking to attract the most skillful gamers to their campus by offering generous sponsors.

Colleges currently offering scholarships to exceptional gamers include the University of Pikesville and Columbia College. Robert Morris University was the first college in the United States to offer athletic scholarships for eSports. Exceptional gamers in this trend-setting college earn up to 50% of tuition and room and board worth an estimated $19,000.

The success of eSports in colleges such as Robert Morris University has inspired other colleges to set up eSports programs. For instance the University of California Irvine is looking to start a League of Legends eSport scholarship program in the fall of 2016.

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How can colleges go about offering scholarships to skilled gamers?

Offering ESports scholarship to exceptional gamers is a worthy program for every college looking to develop and grow talent in a field that is rapidly expanding both financially and technologically. Sourcing for funds to offer scholarships is no easy task.

Gaming publishers and developers have a vested interest in helping exceptional gamers receive a formal education. By enabling skilled gamers to access formal education, video games will rise in popularity especially among millennials who happen to be the biggest clientele base for video games.

By investing in eSports programs in colleges, gaming publishers and developers will be increasing the popularity hence boosting profitability. Companies such as Riot Games and Blizzard Entertainment have invested in starting their own eSports college initiative programs which will help eSports clubs receive funding and other benefits that will benefit students.

Globally renowned companies such as FIFA are known to invest heavily in projects they deem appropriate. By supporting exceptional gamers to gain formal education, they will be creating future game developers who will be able to advance the game and make it better year after year. Seeking financial help from such institutions will help set up successful eSports programs that can offer a substantial amount of money to encourage more gamers to receive a formal education.

Colleges should collaborate and develop a formal eSports league

College sports such as football and baseball are widely successful because colleges have competitive leagues and a national league that helps motivate players to strive for excellence. Additionally, a formal league will also attract more sponsors and even endorsements from technologically savvy companies. The number of colleges interested in setting up eSports programs is likely to rise sporadically in the next 5 years. This means creating a competitive league among college gamers will be a reality.

Getting considerable financial sponsorship’s from businesses will depend on the commitment level of colleges to make their programs successful. To create a successful league more colleges need to embrace gaming as a serious sport that can translate into a livelihood for their students even after school.

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For eSports scholarships to become a reality, colleges have no option other than investing, time energy and money in creating formal and organized eSports programs. Some of the benefits of setting up a formal and well-thought-out program include;

  • A formal set up will be able to attract willing sponsors because in order to get financed, a college has to demonstrate a degree of seriousness in making the program successful both in the long term and in the short term.
  • An eSports programs creates a formal set-up that is dedicated to growing the students skills and ensuring they succeed both in formal education and in honing their gaming skills so that they can take part in video gaming competitions that can earn them money and bring their colleges prestige.

Although encouraging college students to play more computer games may seem counteractive, it is arguably the easiest way of creating the next eSports superstar. Thanks to advancements in eSports more and more colleges are offering substantial scholarships to young players. Hopefully this will lead to a more sophisticated national eSports league that can compete with giants such as the NFL and the NBA.

The old saying that spending a lot of time playing video games will get you nowhere is no longer true. More colleges in the United States and around the globe have invested resources in starting state-of-the-art eSports programs that offer financially support exceptional gamers.

With colleges becoming more involved in computer gaming there is no doubt that in time these games will become more than just a form of entertainment and a way to pass time. Video games will become a serious sport that students can rely on to access formal education.

Photo Credit: League of Legends / The Daily Dot