Ashland University offers eSports scholarship

Jake Hughes
April 25, 2018 - 9:44 am

Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Getting a college scholarship can be a super compettitive and unless you play or sport or are in the top percent of your class, the chance at free money for school can be harder to come by. Well, one school has started a new scholarship for a different type of game: Fortnite!

You read that right. Ashland University in Ashland, Ohio has started a scholarship program for eSports. For those that don't know, eSports are competitive video games, like Overwatch, Fortnite, League of Legends and Rocket League, that are played in front of massive audiences. You may think that this is all some silly niche, but you'd be wrong. The popular live streaming site, earned more than $60 million in ad revenue last year and was purchased by Amazon for about $1 billion.

According to Forbes, The eSports industry generated over $655 million, and is expected to overtake that by around 38 percent in 2018. Microsoft has announced they are building a channel that they bill as "the Netflix of eSports," and last year Hulu commissioned four original series about online gaming competitions. These are not insignificant numbers and colleges are beginning to take notice.

Ashland University is one of 66 colleges and universities in the U.S. that have joined the National Association of Collegiate Esports, and they operate much like athletic departments do. They recruit talented eSports playersand offer scholarships. In an interview with online magazine, Kurt Melcher, executive director of e-sports at Robert Morris University, pointed out that eSports are just as viable as their more traditional counterparts. They take great focus and determination, require extensive practice and competitions are as stressful as traditional sports in every way but physical exertion.

Currently, Ashland University is confident enough in the prospect that they are building an entire eSports facility, complete with 25 gaming stations. The scholarships will give qualifies students $4,000 towards their scholastic year. For more information about the program, you can visit the Ashland University website's eSports section.