Certain colleges now offering scholarships to play video games

Sam Romutis, Staff Writer

Millions of dollars worth of scholarships are given out to student athletes every year to play a sport for their respective college. Whether it is college football, baseball, basketball, hockey or even less popular sports such as bowling, hundreds of thousands of people receive scholarships for their respective sport.

Everybody knows how popular video games are. The industry brings in approximately $120 billion every year, because of the estimated 2 billion players around the globe. Billions of people on the earth play sports as well, too many to predict an accurate number, especially with the wide variety of sports that are out there.

Some colleges are now offering scholarships for students to play video games. According to the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN), varsity collegiate esports began in 2014 when Robert Morris University announced a scholarship-sponsored League of Legends team. Since then, over 88 other colleges around the nation have been creating esports teams. Professional esports games include Fortnite, Call of Duty, Rainbow Six: Siege and Overwatch, to name a few.

Some of the most prominent colleges for esports in today’s society are the University of Utah, University of California-Irvine and Robert Morris University (RMU). RMU offers scholarships up to $19,000 for gamers. They even have their own jerseys, and hold post-game meals, much like any actual sports teams.

Even division I colleges are getting involved in esports. Boise, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Miami (Ohio), Akron, California-Irvine, North Texas, Utah and Western Kentucky all possess esports teams, according to ESPN.
Colleges aren’t even the only organizations that offer gaming scholarships. For example, the NYU Game Center offers an “EVO” scholarship for those wishing to study game design. The amount is $24,000.

All of these esports aren’t just for fun, though. There is serious money involved in some of these competitions. The 2016 Call of Duty championship prize was $2 million. A recent Fortnite Fall Skirmish championship prize was $4 million. Think that is a lot of money? The 2018 international championship prize pool for the game “Dota 2” is at a whopping $25.53 million.

The number one ranked gamer in the world Kuro Takhasomi has raked up well over $4 million individually over his lifetime. The highest ranked Fortnite player Turner Tenney (AKA Tfue) has earned almost $500,000 playing Fortnite in the past year. Quite a bit of money for a video game, and the stakes are expected to increase drastically within the coming years.