Gaming the education system
Kids looking to convince their folks to let them spend more time in front of the PC playing games can now play the college card. How so? The University of California, Irvine, is launching an official e-sports initiative this fall and plans to hand out as many as 10 academic scholarships to students on the team.
“UCI eSports will be built on four pillars: competition, academics, entertainment and community,” said Thomas Parham, vice chancellor for student affairs. “We hope to attract the best gamers from around the world, and our academic programs in computer gaming science, digital arts, computer science, engineering, anthropology, law, medicine, neuroscience and behavior create a strong foundation for research and inquiry related to gaming.”
Those selected will have access to a state-of-the-art arena outfitted with high-end gaming PCs. There will also be a stage for League of Legends competitions and a live webcasting studio.
Competitive gaming is growing in popularity. It’s also attracting some big names, like Mark Cuban, who invested in an e-sports betting startup called Unikrn last year and has been vocal about e-sports being a real sport.
“It has been a dream for many of us on campus that UCI recognize the importance of e-sports and create a space and a program that cater to the large community of gamers at the university,” said Jesse Wang, president of The Association of Gamers. “The eSports team and the arena will ensure that UCI continues to be a leader and trendsetter in collegiate e-sports.”
Students who are not on UCI’s e-sports team will also have access to the 3,500 square foot facility, which will also serve as a hub for social and competitive gaming in Southern California.
As for the PCs that will be used, UCI didn’t provide any specs, but did say that boutique builder iBuyPower will supply 80 of its high-end gaming systems pre-loaded with popular video games.