Head’s up eSports players: your competitive video gaming experience could end up paying for your college education.
But that’s if you’re planning to attend the University of California, Irvine, which announced last week that they will offering “as many as 10 academic scholarships” to talented League of Legends players starting this fall semester.
The scholarships are half-tuition, which are worth about $5,500, and will be awarded to students on the university’s collegiate League of Legends team, said UCI student programming assistant director Mark Deppe, according to The Bakesfield Californian.
In addition, the university also plans to open a 3,500 square foot gaming arena inside the campus’ Student Center. The arena, which can be accessed by all university students, will be equipped with gaming PCs, a League of Legends competition stage and a studio for live webcasting tournaments.
“UCI eSports will be built on four pillars: competition, academics, entertainment and community,” Thomas Parham, UCI vice chancellor for student affairs, said in a statement. “We hope to attract the best gamers from around the world, and our academic programs in computer gaming science, digital arts, computer science, engineering, anthropology, law, medicine, neuroscience, and behavior create a strong foundation for research and inquiry related to gaming.”
The university claims to have a “dedicated gaming community,” with about 72 percent of its student body identifying themselves as gamers, while a remarkable 89 percent support the creation of a collegiate eSports team.
UCI joins the growing number of universities in and outside the United States that have jumped on the eSports craze. Early this year, 22-year-old Stelanie Tsirlis, a student from Miami University in Ohio, was given the go signal to create a first of its kind eSports curriculum in the country. Currently, there are game courses already available at New York University and Berkeley, California, but this will be the first college course in the U.S. The university also plans to create its own varsity eSports team.