If you have a gamer in your home, you likely know how much video gaming integrates into their lives. But beyond the meteoric success and outright appeal of video gaming to young people, and some not-so-young, gaming now provides tangible benefits to serious players: competitive esports and esports college scholarships.
Parents of college-bound gamers should pay attention to this $1.45 billion industry. College-level esports and the burgeoning ecosystem of esports scholarships are on the rise. OEC Fiber’s high-speed internet for smart TVs and gaming devices can give your esports scholar an advantage over the competition.
Collegiate esports is taking off as a legitimate competitive endeavor. Every year, more and more colleges and universities across the United States add varsity esports programs to their rosters. And yes, we did say “varsity”—as in intercollegiate competition, not just a club or diversionary dorm room duel. Robert Morris University was the very first college to create a varsity esports team back in 2014—and the trend has only ballooned since then.
At the varsity and college level, schools typically create individual teams of players around particular games. This gives gamers the opportunity to advance and excel at strategies and tactics suited to the complexities and skill needs of that title, enhancing the competitiveness of each game and esports in general.
Beyond enormously popular and well-known titles like Fortnite (around 3 million players are logged in and actively playing at once), several other titles are commonly played at varsity level esports in colleges and universities in North America. In particular, Call of Duty, League of Legends, Rocket League, Smash Bros and Valorant are among the most frequently duked-out games in collegiate esports.
Because there are actual competitions and bragging rights up for grabs, colleges are also competing for the best talent in esports. More schools are providing scholarships for their best esports players. Real dollars are increasingly available for the top gamers to put toward the costs of their higher education. In 2017, Harrisburg University became the first college to offer full rides to its leading esports competitors, including room and board!
An estimated $16 million in college scholarships exist just for esports players. And as collegiate esports continue to rise, we expect more schools to establish varsity programs, as well as expand their existing esports teams.
All this esports growth at the college level means that more scholarships—and larger dollar amounts—are likely to be dedicated to esports gamers. Hence, for the truly talented and committed gamer, esports should be taken seriously. Gamers should consider taking steps to make themselves more competitive for esports scholarship opportunities.
Despite collegiate varsity esports’ impressive growth, there is a gender divide in the gaming community. Though females make up almost half of all video gamers (49% to be precise, according to one 2023 analysis), statistics show that men receive 90% of esports scholarships.
With patently lopsided statistics like that, the divide has not gone unnoticed. The lack of female representation in collegiate esports may be due to the difference in games preferred by female gamers.
Collegiate female gamers who love esports should keep an eye out for scholarships that are often given to male players. Their unique backgrounds and talents may give young women an edge over their compatriots in the coming years and help broaden and improve the sport.
There are no two ways about it. Esports gives top players a competitive edge when it comes to higher education. Scholarships are on the rise, and the competition for them is fierce. Reliable, high-speed internet provided by OEC Fiber can improve any gamer’s experience and perhaps even help them open the door to a world of opportunity.