In the last decade, esports has been widely adopted by colleges and universities. Several colleges and universities have incorporated esports in their curriculums or degree programs. Many schools have spent a lot of time and effort developing competitive teams. This is a look at the current state of gaming in Higher Education and some projections about what’s coming next.
Recognition & Scholarships
In recent years, the most important development has been the creation of varsity esports. Robert Morris University became the first university to offer esports in 2014. Since then, hundreds have followed. As with traditional athletes, many schools offer scholarships to gamers. It’s true:
- In the United States, over 16 million dollars in esports scholarship awards were given to students during the academic year 2020-2021. This is a significant increase over the previous year, when only $8 million in esports scholarships were awarded.
- Harrisburg University is the first university to offer full tuition scholarship to its esports team (including housing). While full-ride scholarships to college are rare, some schools offer scholarships like Illinois College that range from $15,000-20,000.
Scholarships continue to grow. There are still several scholarships open for application. Esports degree has been created to recognize academic achievement in this field. As the esports market has grown, it is harder for universities to ignore the benefits of studying gaming management or esports. Scholarships can help to elevate the perspectives of recipients. Academic certification also proves this industry’s relevance. From the service like “buy dissertation online” you can order the application essay to make sure you’ll be successful.
The establishment of governing bodies for competitive play is another important development. There have been many changes and restructures in collegiate esports since the beginning. TESPA was a leader for a while, with more than 270 members in its chapter and 1300 schools participating in their tournaments. After the pandemic, the organization dissolved.
Other have shown their endurance. NACE was founded in 2016, and now has over 170 members. NACE provides resources and supports collegiate esports. The rest of the gaming world has taken notice. Riot Games, Blizzard, and other major game publishers have created their own college leagues and competitions.
Why not the NCAA? The NCAA decided in 2019 to not take on an official or regulatory role with regards to esports. This decision was made primarily as a gesture of goodwill. Kurt Melcher was involved in the conversations and said that “the NCAA was concerned about gamers coming to college with money already earned, a personal brand built up in their streaming audience, and having a sponsorship agreement in place…prior accepting an NCAA scholarship.” This is another example of the differences between esports and traditional sports, as well as the complexities of this new frontier.
It is possible that institutional changes will occur in the future. It is possible that a new organization could emerge from further efforts to improve the structure.
Colleges and Universities are investing in esports facilities to provide students with the equipment and space they need to compete and practice. These facilities include the latest gaming PCs, streaming equipment, and spectator areas. This creates a professional environment for competitive gaming. The key to creating this infrastructure is the creation of partnerships and sponsorships.
Diversity and Investment: Challenges
Many challenges remain. The lack of diversity, especially in terms of race and gender, is a fundamental issue in esports. There are many esports players and teams that are dominated by males of white race. It is important to make esports more inclusive for all students. This issue is partly due to socioeconomic factors which limit access to technology. Those who have had better access to gaming equipment are more likely to be top competitors.
A second challenge is to continue investing in programs. Some universities and colleges are embracing esports while others are slower to realize the true value of games. Colleges and universities will need to invest in esports as they continue to grow. This is to ensure that students have the resources and tools needed to compete.
- No Groundbreakers Since Valorant was launched in 2020, there haven’t really been any games that have had a major impact on esports. The year 2023 is not likely to be any different. The movement hasn’t released any releases that are highly anticipated, and they may not for some time.
- Increase in Scholarships With more scholarships being offered independently of the ones made available by colleges and universities, scholarship totals for 2023 are expected to surpass those of their predecessors.
- More sponsors & partnerships: Sponsorships enable more infrastructure for esports to be provided. Partnerships will continue to raise awareness about esports among a wider audience. This week, NACE announced a partnership between Esports Illustrated and Sports Illustrated . The latter is poised for esports college news authority.
- Increase in Degrees and Certifications.