High-schools Are Now Introducing eSports Classes & Gaming Scholarships

 

The gaming industry and community has grown quite a bit since we were all playing Super Mario Bros. on the NES. In fact, according to a report by Reuters, gaming is bigger than it ever was, bigger than every other form of entertainment.

Last year, the gaming industry produced an estimated revenue of $116 billion, beating TV and TV streaming services’ $105 billion, and that’s as close as the industry wars got. The movie industry only made $41 billion while music only made $17 billion. In addition, the gaming industry is still growing, seeing a 10.7 percent growth over last year, as opposed to other entertainment services like TV whose revenue fell by 8 percent.

The Reuters report mentions several factors that lead to the growth of gaming last year. One is the relatively recent opening of the Chinese gaming market, which is climbing in sales an average of 14 percent per year. Finally it mentions Grand Theft Auto V as a standout video game release, selling more than 90 million units and grossing more than $6 billion. This makes it the most profitable entertainment release of all time in any medium.

We are also seeing something of a role reversal in the relationship between the gaming industry and the film industry. Specifically, in the early days of gaming, popular films and TV shows would frequently be licensed for video game tie-ins. These days, licensed games are becoming rarer but adaptations of games such as the Assassin’s Creed movie, the Castlevania Netflix series, and the Five Nights at Freddy’s novel series are becoming more common and popular as a result.

To put it simply, the fast-evolving world of esports is exploding and high schools are figuring this out.

Recently, Virginia became the ninth state to make esports an official part of their athletics departments two weeks ago when it announced a one-year pilot program for all state high schools. So, what exactly does this mean for students? This means students (and hopeful gamers) can sign up for a team, go to practices, train with a coach and suit up for game days. They compete against other teams throughout the state.

And, that’s not all. Just like football, baseball or soccer, student gamers can also get scholarships.

In 2016, there were only seven colleges that had esports teams. There are now programs at more than 130 colleges, giving away more than $15 million in esports scholarships, according to the National Association of Collegiate Esports.

“One of our teams won a national tournament, and five or six of them split a $12,000 scholarship,” said Miles Carey, an assistant principal at Washington-Liberty High School in Arlington and head of their esports program.

Another one of their students made his college choice — the University of British Columbia — specifically because of its high-ranked esports team.

It’s safe to say that gaming is now being held in a higher light, proving to people that eSports isn’t just a hobby; it’s an industry, and the chances of your kid making a good living in the tech world are far more likely now than ever before.

When it made its announcement, Virginia said three games — League of Legends, SMITE and Rocket League — will be offered during two seasons of the school year (October to January for the first season, and the second is to be determined in late winter or spring). 

Students will have to maintain eligibility, GPA and good behaviour, and participation in the class will cost $64 (USD) per game title per season to cover accessibility costs. When it comes to esports on the competitive level, players work together to achieve a game goal. The teamwork and plays can be as orchestrated as a football flea flicker or basketball give-and-go.

Just like traditional sports, there are private coaches, camps and clinics. There’s even a Game Gym to go work out your Rocket League reaction times.

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