University offers scholarships to video gamers, hopes to cash in on spectator gaming

World Today

Robert Morris University in Chicago is adding competitive gaming to it’s official athletics program and it’s offering hefty scholarships to the best gamers around. CCTV America’s Roza Kazan reports.

The e-sports arena at Robert Morris University is the brainchild of Associate Athletic Director Kurt Melcher, himself a former video-gamer. Melcher is hoping to attract the growing e-sports trend where spectators sell-out huge arenas to watch gamers go head-to-head and big-name companies sponsor the event.

“There is a tremendous viewer base, people want to watch these players play the game, people have massive crushes or huge respect for teams, and they want to see the best in the world play in that position,” added Jason Greenglass, an assistant coast of e-sports at Robert Morris University.

Derek Shao, a 20-year-old student from Canada, describes himself as a lifelong gamer. A skilled League of Legends player, he received the top scholarship at the university which pays for half his tuition and room and board, worth about $19,000 a year.

“It requires a lot of physical finesse, too, a lot of decision making, mental acuity, it’s so big that people won’t be able to ignore it no matter what. Call it a game, call it a sport, it’s there,” Shao says.

Shao is happy with the top-of-the-line arena, decked out with extra-comfy chairs, and self-cooling computers.The University spent about $100,000 on this state-of the-art facility. But the price tag would have been a lot higher if it wasn’t for the help of official sponsors.

E-sports has become big business. Last year, League of Legends’ publisher, Riot Games, made an estimated $600 million from in-game purchases and tournament tickets and secured Coca-Cola as the championship’s top backer. It’s only time, experts say, before more schools add e-sports to their programs and give more parents hope that a video-game obsession just might pay off.

Follow Roza Kazan on Twitter: @rozakazancctv

University offers scholarships to video gamers, hopes to cash in on spectator gaming

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