Episode: Varsity Video Gamers

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Varsity Video Gamers

Yes, you can get a college scholarship for playing video games. So what's it like? E-athletes practice five hours a day in a specially outfitted room plush with sponsored gear called the arena. The football team is a little jealous. (This is part 2 of 2 about the world of video games going mainstream go here for part 1 about middle aged gamers). 

The Scholarships

The athletic director of Robert Morris University in Illinois had a bold idea. He wanted to expand college sports to include video games. And he wanted to do it in a big way: with scholarships. The result was a deluge of applicants clamoring to get into the first ever college to enroll varsity e-athletes. One of the players already dropped out to go pro. Another says his mother flat out didn't believe him when he said it was possible to get a scholarship for gaming. Now she proudly tells her friends her son is a competitive collegiate e-athlete. One student late for practice found his You Tube privileges were taken away in the gaming arena so he would focus more on his game playing.  

The Game

The Robert Morris Eagles play League of Legends. It is by far the most popular video game for organized competition drawing in tens of millions of fans to watch top matches. It is incredibly complicated and hard to master. Each player chooses from 121 different characters called champions, each with their own set of powers that top players need to memorize. Then teams of five take on other teams of five and basically try to destroy each other. It’s called a “multiplayer online battle arena game” or MOBA for short. As with physical sports, the school can earn money back with a winning program. How that works is a little different though with video games. It is most certainly not an NCAA sport, so the school's team can compete for cash prizes and if it wins, the school keeps the take. 

The Eagles Arena

The Robert Morris University in Chicago E-Sports Video Gaming Arena
(Manoush Zomorodi)

Just Like the Football Team 

Add Caption Here
(Manoush Zomorodi)


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