University of California Irvine Is Now Offering Video Game Player Scholarships

Scholarships in eSports
UCI students face off at League of Legends in the Student Center's Zot Zone (Courtesy of The Association of Gamers at UCI)
Scholarships in eSports
UCI students face off at League of Legends in the Student Center’s Zot Zone (Courtesy of The Association of Gamers at UCI)


If you read RealClearLife‘s recent story on a gamer competition selling out Madison Square Garden—on consecutive nights—you’ll know that video games have come a long way since the days of joysticks and Pong. These days, they’re are a huge moneymaker: gamers compete in a “League of Legends” (that’s what sold out MSG); and for some of the best in the world, playing them has become a lucrative career.

While many large universities—like Kentucky, Kansas, Michigan, or Syracuse—have been recruiting the world’s top athletes for their competitive basketball or football programs for years, the University of California Irvine has picked up on the “gamers as sportsmen” trend and run with it. The university recently launched its own e-sports team initiative, which is a first for a public research institute.

On campus, UCI has constructed a state-of-the-art gamer arena, armed to the teeth with high-end gaming equipment; a means for competing in the League of Legends; and a live webcasting studio, all for the purpose of promoting its UCI eSports program. And get this: potential students have access to 10 academic scholarships based on the program. That’s right; if you’re a top gamer, you could get money towards a degree in blasting digital aliens to smithereens. Says Thomas Parham, vice chancellor for student affairs, of the innovative new program:

“UCI eSports will be built on four pillars: competition, academics, entertainment and community….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.”

Additionally, UCI already boasts a Computer Game Science major; and has other major areas—anthropology, art, education, and others—that cross over with the gamer lifestyle. The eSports program made total sense from an analytical standpoint, too: a recent survey concluded that some 72 percent of the student body considered themselves gamers.

For more information on UCI eSports, click here. For an in-depth video from UCI on its eSports program, watch below.

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