looking for some money for college? Then you may want to stop limiting the time your children spend playing video games, or you may want to focus their efforts. Robert Morris University (RMU) in Chicago, Illinois, has a new scholarship program - $500,000 for 30 scholarships that will go to League of Legends (LOL) players. The chosen few receive up to 50 percent of tuition and 50 percent of room and board.
Where do the Robert Morris Eagles find candidates? As it turns out, more than 750 schools in the United States and Canada participate in the League of Legends High School Starleague. At the collegiate level, the LOL league boasts more than 100 colleges and universities, including Carleton, Texas A&M, George Washington, University of Minnesota, Northwestern, University of Michigan, and Harvard. E-athletes participating in the college Starleague vie for $100,000 in scholarship money offered by the company that publishes League of Legends.
According to WNYC's New Tech City, LOL is a complex and difficult-to-master game. Players choose one of more than 120 characters, each with various magical powers that must be memorized. "Teams of five take on other teams of five and basically try to destroy each other. It's called a 'multiplayer online battle arena game' or MOBA for short."
So, what's in it for the school? E-sports are not covered by the NCAA, "so the school's team can compete for cash prizes and, if it wins, the school keeps the take." You may recall, from a late-July commentary, the League of Legends (LOL) championship is an international video game competition with $1 million in prize money.
If you're amazed there are scholarships for video game play, you're not alone. One of the Robert Morris Eagles' players told NPR, "I told my mom about [the RMU scholarship]. She didn't believe me. She's like, you're crazy and there's no way... She thought I was like, making it up 'cause she personally doesn't even like me playing the game, but when she realized I was going to get a scholarship for it, she accepted it, you know? She tells all of her friends."
Parental support is probably pretty important. E-athletes at RMU practice five hours a day in their 'arena,' which is a room decked out with sponsored gear. They play tournaments on weekends. Critics worry that encouraging intensive play is a poor idea when countries, like Korea (where the game is exceptionally popular), have begun screening children for gaming and Internet addiction.
In mid-November, the RMU Eagles were undefeated in LOL collegiate play.