Imagine a new school program that is gender-neutral, inclusive to students with physical disabilities, bolsters school pride through competitive meets and is eligible for full and partial scholarships from over 175 colleges and universities. You don’t have to be a gamer to see the value that esports (competitive videogaming) could bring to your school.
Collegiate varsity esports began in 2014 when Robert Morris University created scholarships for a League of Legends e-sports team. Nearly a decade later, over 175 colleges and universities have followed suit, resulting in a $1.38 billion industry in 2022. The videogaming industry is forecasted to grow 7 percent annually and likely to top $200 billion in revenue in 2023.
The industry offers many opportunities for a wide variety of skillsets–and not just at the higher-ed level, but at the K-12 level, too. For example, creatives will find opportunities to develop fictional worlds, math and science interests can lead to careers in programming and engineering, and marketing and project management paths blend the other two. Broadcasting esports has also been a viable path to careers in journalism and entertainment.
Developing an esports program requires a dedicated space. Esports can be a way of encouraging student engagement (particularly from students who have not found other programs of interest), especially if the school can offer a gaming environment that is more robust than what a student might experience at home.
Functional needs are similar in many ways to other athletic programs: requirements include a place to practice and coach, a competition set-up, and areas for broadcasters and spectators. Team building can also be facilitated with soft seating and access to food (traditional sports concessions or vending).