This year we have seen great things come from the esports industry and the collegiate esports scene. Major universities, for example, now offer esports scholarships and have highly competitive teams. Several years ago, it was unheard of for universities to offer a scholarship to play video games! Now it is a part of the norm and will continue to be that way. According to The Sport Journal, “College esports tournament organizer Tespa notes that its competitions attract more than 1,350 schools and more than 40,000 players.”
Students who excel at the following games: League of Legends, Overwatch, and Valorant will find excellent academic opportunities are available to them. Schools are also building out their esports ecosystems modeled after professional teams. For example, Coastline College has a competitive Valorant Team and an inhouse shoutcaster that announces matches for the team. At larger four-year universities such as University of California, Irvine, have esports programs, coaches, shoutcasters, and even a physical therapist specifically for players!
Esports on college campuses offer a bunch of great opportunities for all students - which is why I wanted to compile this list of the great reasons to get involved with esports at your school. Without further ado, here are the top ten reasons to get involved with esports as a college student!
Yes, you read that right, esports scholarships are available to students who excel in gaming. It used to be that scholarships were primarily available for traditional athletes, but now that has changed. Esports athletes have been on the rise for the past several years and colleges are noticing. Universities are ramping up their esports programs by offering scholarships. In fact, there are 175 universities offering scholarships that are recognized by the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE). The NACE is one of the leading governing bodies of collegiate esports. The scholarships can range greatly from $500-$8,000 depending on which university students decide to apply to. One of the local major universities, UCI offers scholarships for its Overwatch and League of Legends teams! High School students can now start playing video games competitively to help themselves get a great education and scholarship! That start can happen at Coastline, where students can take classes at Coastline while finishing their high school diploma. This had to be on my top ten list!
2. Connect with other Gamers at your school
Any student that starts getting involved with esports at their school will instantly relate to like-minded gamers. For some students they just want to play casually and just have a good time playing their favorite games. Other students like to play competitively and compete for the school in cash prize tournaments. The choice is totally up to you and nobody on campus can hold you back. You can form ever lasting friendships through your love of gaming. At Coastline College I have made several friendships that revolve around our interest in video games. My Coastline friends and I like to play a variety of games that keep us connected. Esports alumni programs are becoming stronger as the industry continues to evolve and continues to get bigger. By connecting with other gamers, you will potentially find more professional opportunities available post-college. If you like esports and video games, I would highly recommend getting involved at your college to connect with your fellow gamers!
3. Real Prizes!
Schools that compete in high profile college tournaments can win cash prizes and gaming products. Most collegiate tournaments are open to schools that have a full team that can compete. Most rosters on a college team only need 5-6 players to compete in tournaments. Red Bull, (yes, the world-famous energy drink) has its own Valorant Collegiate Tournament - the tournament is called “Campus Clutch”. It consists of collegiate teams from all over the world competing for a cash prize of $22,637.00. This is a huge tournament that takes place on a global level, and it consists of about 25,000 students competing for the cash prize. In addition to the cash prize that these students can win, they also have the chance to see the VALORANT Masters event in person. On a smaller scale the College League of Legends tournament has over 451 schools competing in its tournament that is officially sponsored by Riot Games. They had over 4,000 students competing in the 2020 tournament. Every year Riot Games has seen the tournament get more students involved from previous years. The cash prize for the college league of legends comes in at $190,000. The cash prize is distributed among the top 16 teams - first place gets the biggest piece with a whopping $50,000. If you want to compete for your school and earn cash prizes on big stages now is the time!
4. The Chance to turn Pro
With more schools offering scholarships and greater resources to its gamers the competition is going to turn up. The more fully fledged a program is the more chances a school will have at attracting prospective students. As the collegiate esports scene gets bigger they will attract more attention from the professional teams. Not only will students have the chance to become pro gamers they can also get involved with the behind-the-scenes roles that take place in esports. They will have the chance to become shoutcasters, team managers, marketing professionals, event coordinators, and coaches. All of this will be possible from the experience a player can get while in college.
5. Improved Reflexes
When you get started in gaming and esports chances are your reflexes will greatly improve! Studies from the University of Toronto showcased that playing first person shooter games can improve your ability to visually see things quicker. In video games you are often put into situations to find the enemy team before they find you. Being able to locate your enemy efficiently is a vital esports skill. When playing video games your decision making skills are gonna be pushed as well. Split second decisions have to be made throughout the entirety of a match. One of my favorite games Overwatch requires players to constantly make decisions about how to navigate the map. Overwatch is a team based game where teams of five have to capture and hold a certain area on the map for an extended amount of time. While this is happening both teams are battling each other and trying to eliminate their foes for better positioning. While I play this game I feel pushed to make decisions that will impact my team for the better. One wrong move in a game, while we try to maintain our position can lead to disastrous results.
6. Experience Teamwork
Strategizing and brainstorming of ideas on how to best win matches is a part of the team building process. Students will find that the best esports clubs and teams are heavily invested in building strong relationships with each other. Esports is definitely a team environment, and everybody needs to be all hands-on deck in order to make it work. By exposing yourself to an esports team you will learn more teamwork. The players, coaches, and supporting members of the team all must work in unison. Just think of every major sports team and how for the most part they function well together. By being a part of a team students can share the glory of its team success. All members of an esports club or team can have their voices heard. In Apex Legends teams consist of 3 legends and these legends each have different abilities. Some legends are more attack oriented, and others can be more defensive oriented. It is up to the players before each match to decide on which legends they will choose. By working together to select the best combination of legends they have a better chance of winning. Esports teammates are constantly in communication with each other during matches and before matches. According to TeamStage, “One of the most fascinating and interesting facts about teamwork is that the right amount of feedback and respect can scale up team members’ emotional wellbeing by a staggering 80%.” Students with more experience working in groups or teams will be better off than those with none at all.
7. Build Critical Thinking Skills
Once you start playing video games you will start to see that your critical thinking skills will be put to the test! Esports and gaming requires that gamers who want to get better at the game have to analyze the game while they are playing. Players have to strategize what is the best way to win the matches they are in. Recalling upon your experience playing different games can give you a big advantage over your foes. Some players record their own gameplay and watch the footage later on. This shows them where they made errors in the game and gives them an opportunity to do better. By checking their gameplay footage they will be forced to actively think about their matches and playstyles. Another way gamers can build critical thinking skills is to play a variety of games. Some games consist of just strictly eliminating the enemy opponents and being the last team alive to win the match. For example, Apex Legends is a Battle Royale game that has teams of players drop into the map without any supplies. It's up to the players and the teams to find the best loot to outwit the other teams. Inside of the Apex Legends, when the round starts the map gets smaller by design - and teams are forced to get closer to each other making for intense battles. On the flip side a very popular title within gaming and esports is Valorant. It consists of teams of five with one team on offense and another team on defense. The whole object is the offensive team is trying to eliminate the defensive team's base and its players. Valorant is a much slower paced game compared to Apex and requires a more tactical approach to the game. Once you start playing video games you can potentially enhance your critical thinking ability.
8. Esports is about Fun!
Sometimes it's best to remember that esports and video games are supposed to be about having fun with your fellow students. The Covid-19 pandemic has put a damper on a lot of life events but esports provides remote fun! A lot of fun esports events are held virtually and remotely. Everybody can and will enjoy the thrill of playing with friends. As soon as you start playing you can see how much fun video games can be. It doesn't matter how good somebody is at a game or how bad they are - just enjoy yourself - chances are you will get better by playing with others. I recently went to my first Smash Tournament at Coastline College and got badly beaten by my foes. It didn't matter to me as I was still competing and having a good time with my fellow esports club members. Healthy competition for gamers can be a good thing for a couple different reasons. First, you might have heard the old saying that winning isn't everything and it's true in collegiate esports. Just because you don't win first place in a tournament doesn't mean you are bad at the game. By not getting first place means that you and your team have room for improvement. Esports and traditional athletes are always looking to get better. If you are looking for an exciting activity, then get into esports at your school you will find yourself smiling more.
On a final note - a big bonus reason to get involved with esports is because you might have the opportunity to try out new computer equipment. At Coastline College we are lucky to have Oculus VR Headsets that are available for use. These headsets are state of the art and are valued at over $300. This is definitely an experience that I have enjoyed myself and would recommend, if you have not tried virtual reality games before. The oculus headset has over 250 games available to it that include fitness games, action, and you can even watch live entertainment. Virtual reality could be the future of esports because it has the ability to pull you right into the action. For fans and viewers this would be the best seat in the house, by being right in the action!
Whether you are a new college gamer or have been gaming for a long time this list will give you more incentive to get into esports. You might be intimated at first if you have not played a video game but, have no fear you can quickly pick up on all things related to esports. I know from experience I was a little nervous to get involved at my school but once I did I was very happy with my decision. The benefit of making new friends got rid of all fear that I had with the Coastline Esports club. College esports has changed for the good and you don't wanna miss out! You can always check out Coastline College’s Esports program. We have ongoing events throughout the year! Follow us on our Instagram and Twitter.