US college to offer e-sports scholarship

Students at UC Irvine playing League of Legends at the Student Centre which is due for a massive upgrade. Photo / UCI
Students at UC Irvine playing League of Legends at the Student Centre which is due for a massive upgrade. Photo / UCI

Did your parents ever tell you to stop playing video games and do your homework?

The University of California, Irvine (UCI) has announced a first-of-its-kind official e-sports scholarship programme called UCI eSports.

The initiative comes with a specially equipped "state-of-the-art" gaming arena to be built at the university's Student Centre and ten academic scholarships for students who make the League of Legends team.

READ MORE: How much is your degree worth? Big bucks for the right graduates

League of Legends is currently the only game endorsed and sponsored for the University, with developers Riot Games pledging support to facilitate and work with UC Irvine on developing the initiative and "[creating] a permanent home for gamers on campus."

Jesse Wang, president of the Association of Gamers said "the eSports team and the arena will ensure that UCI continues to be a leader and trendsetter in collegiate e-sports."

The University believes it will be the first college of many to offer e-sports scholarships across the United States.

The value of e-sports has been growing massively year on year, with 2017 projected to gather $465 million in 2017. Major companies such as Coca Cola, Red Bull and Monster got in on the action early and are reaping the benefits as competitions sell out at Madison Square Garden and millions of viewers watch from home. Prize money for major tournaments went as high as $31 million in 2015.

A growing spectator sport. Stadiums sell out and millions of fans tune in to watch their favourite teams and players. Photo / Getty
A growing spectator sport. Stadiums sell out and millions of fans tune in to watch their favourite teams and players. Photo / Getty

Warner Bros. ESPN and Spike are all beginning to embrace e-sports and, like the scholarship, e-sports could soon fit into peoples lives the way regular sports do.

According to a press release from UCI, a survey of students found that 72 percent identified as gamers and 89 percent supported the creation of an e-sports team.

There's hope for gamers who don't play League of Legends too; Mark Deppe, the newly announced esports director at UCI told Polygon they will see how much interest the initiative garners and consider expanding it.

"Our school happens to be really good at Super Smash Bros., so I'd be interested in pursuing that," he said.

So think twice before you tell your kids to stop gaming and go to bed, they might be securing a potential scholarship, career, and a ton of prize money.

- NZ Herald

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