Colleges roll out scholarships to varsity video game players


Photo: Lars Frantzen

Video games are going varsity.

In some ways, they’re like typical college athletes. They’re on varsity teams. They train for hours between classes. Some get hefty scholarships. But instead of playing sports, they’re playing video games.

On college campuses, varsity gaming teams with all the trappings of sports teams are becoming increasingly common as schools tap into the rising popularity of competitive gaming. After initially keeping its distance, even the NCAA is now considering whether it should play a role.

Fifty U.S. colleges have established varsity gaming teams over the past three years, often offering at least partial scholarships and backed by coaches and game analysts, much like any other college team. The popularity of competitive gaming comes as the video game industry’s revenue has surpassed music sales and secured a foothold with teens and 20-something adults. Young men now spend an average of 3.4 hours a week on their joysticks compared with just 2 hours a decade ago.

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