from the education-is-never-wasted dept.
Nick Wingfield reports at the New York Times that Loc Tran, a top player on the school’s competitive video game team, became a big man on campus at San Jose State University in Northern California after helping San Jose State claw its way to victory in June over California State University, Fullerton, in a tournament watched online by nearly 90,000 people. When the new school year started this fall, classmates’ heads swiveled toward him when professors said his name during roll call. “I thought that was pretty cool,” says Tran. Winning big video game competitions, also known as e-sports, can sometimes earn players several years’ worth of tuition money and, in a possible sign of the future, the athletic department of Robert Morris University Illinois in Chicago created an official video game team this fall, offering the same sort of scholarships given to athletes playing soccer, football, and ice hockey.
The rise in e-sports has been so abrupt, many schools have not determined what to make of it. Carter Henderson, a spokesman for the University of Washington’s athletics program, said no one from the department was familiar enough with e-sports to discuss the topic. Game companies say it is too early to predict how university administrations will become involved in e-sports. “This is just how basketball was in the 1940s,” says Christopher Wyatt. “A lot of the structure and organization you see in more formal athletics, that groundwork is still being laid down here.” In the meantime, game companies and collegiate league organizers predict that college e-sports could become a pipeline for the growing professional circuit. “We really want e-sports to become as ingrained in the academic environment as anything else," says Tyler Rosen like "speech competitions, football competitions."