Approximately ninety-one percent of all U.S. teens have engaged in video gaming. Though common, it is usually frowned upon by many adults for being too violent, mindless, and not educational. Occasionally, the hobby affects student’s grade and causes difficulties in the college application process. Robert Morris University in Chicago, Illinois, is working to eliminate the fear of not getting in to college due to a student’s passion for video gaming. RMU is a small, private, non-profit university with a student body of only 3,000 students. The idea to create this new program which allows students to receive scholarships for being a top scorer in a video game came to Associate Athletic Director Kurt Melcher when he was surfing the web for new games to play. He came across he game League of Legends and, after some extensive research, he found it substantial enough to be a gateway for incoming high school gamers. League of Legends is an internationally known, online game that is played by about twenty-seven million people each day. It’s so popular that there are world championship tournaments held annually for the best of the best to compete to win large prizes. League of Legends is a science fiction based game that pits teams of warriors and summoners against each other to battle for control over their opponent’s base. In competitions, there are teams of five that battle together for control. RMU’s goal is to assemble three varsity teams and a few reserve teams for its program.
If accepted, a student receives a scholarship that covers fifty percent of their tuition as well as fifty percent of their room and board fees. This usually totals about $19,000 for each recipient per year. RMU has claimed the title as the first college in the nation to offer such scholarship, and the news is getting mixed responses. Most students feel that it will be a good addition to the athletic program and it will open doors for many talented young students. Others feel that video gaming should not be praised in such a way because it is not a physically taxing activity.
Though it is true that League of Legends doesn’t necessarily involve physical skills, it does require heightened mental abilities, including hyper mental acuity, multiple player communications, plotting strategy, the ability to predict opponent’s moves and reacting within second. These are some of the qualities RMU is looking for in the top players they accept. For this program, there will be a $100,000 classroom with expansive video screens, high quality gaming computers, and additional equipment. The room will be dimly lit with the blinds shut to reduce the glare on the screens. The school’s teams will play in two different leagues with opponents such as Harvard and Yale. RMU is hoping for many future championship titles as a result of this eSport program. It is hopefully the first of many colleges to vindicate and liberate the gamers of the world who long for a college education.