Scholarships for Overwatch and League of Legends Players at UCI
Overwatch players, rejoice!
Now you can earn a college scholarship based on your Overwatch skills, as long as you are willing to put them to good use while in school.
Overwatch Scholarships at UCI
The University of California Irvine will begin offering scholarships to Overwatch players this fall through the school’s new eSports program. The eSports program at UCI first launched in 2016 with the school making 10 League of Legends scholarships available to gamers who made the cut. In fall 2017, the school will add 10 Overwatch scholarships to that offering. UCI’s Overwatch team did very well in 2016 tournaments.
With the launch of the UCI eSports program came significant backing from Riot Games, the developers of League of Legends. The company funded construction of a state of the art eSports arena for the university in 2016, based on the design of Korean PC gaming cafes.
Extensive Gaming Culture at UCI
UCI has incorporated video games into its academic programs since 2002, when it established the Game Culture & Technology Lab. It has gone on to conduct research in gaming and offers a degree program in gaming science.
- 2002: Game Culture & Technology Lab established at Calit2
- 2008: $3 million research grant from National Science Foundation for game-based virtual worlds as decentralized virtual activity systems
- 2009: Establishes the Institute for Virtual Environments and Computer Games
- 2011: B.S. Degree program in Computer Game Science, 300 undergraduate enrollees
A recent student survey at UCI revealed that 72 percent identify as gamers and 89 percent support the creation of an eSports team.
“What separates eSports at UCI from other schools is that we have a track record of success. Our LoL [League of Legends] club team is a three-time national champion holder, and we are Super Smash Bros national champions…
We’re known for being really good at academics and having a low-acceptance rate and being the home of Nobel Prize winners. Most gamers I know are also really hard workers and take academics very seriously.”
-Jesse Wang, President of The Association of Gamers at UCI
The eSports program is no joke. UCI works hard and plays hard with a growing reputation for producing developers and thought leaders in eSports and gaming. The university's location places it near the center of the growing eSports industry.
“Game designers are almost always themselves really dedicated gamers, and passionate about gaming as a lifestyle.”
-Morgan Romine, Ph.D. (her dissertation: “Fractured Imaginaries: An Ethnography of Game Design”)
Former team captain, Frag Dolls
UCI’s eSports program appears to be the first initiative of its kind, closely integrating competitive gameplay with research and development work. But other schools offered eSports scholarships first, and more are on the way.
Scholarhip winners must be prepared to commit 15-20 hours per week during the season to practice, team meetings, community service, workouts, and competitions.
Resources available to the eSports team include dedicated coaching and analysis staff, personal training, a team psychologist . And of course, the team has free reign to use the resources of the eSports arena.
Available eSports Scholarship Programs
If you or someone you know would be interested in a college scholarship based on your gaming talents, there are several programs available right now for current and incoming students. There are many schools that currently offer eSports scholarships:
- the first to do it: Robert Morris University - League of Legends
- the first big research school to do it: UCI – League of Legends and Overwatch
- the first big sports school to do it: University of Utah – League of Legends
- the first all-women’s school to do it: Stephens College – Overwatch
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