Competitive video gaming will now be looked at as an athletic program at a private liberal arts university in northwest Ohio. But they’re not the first school to do so as they are joining about 30 other schools across the country that offer eSports scholarships.
University President Mary Ann Gawelek has been advocating for an eSports program at Lourdes University since she assumed office last July.
“In order to participate in eSports you have to have the mental ability and critical thinking skills to do game-playing in general, you have to have developed the ability to function on a team, and you have to have a competitive nature that drives you toward success,” She said. “It links well with a liberal arts education.”
Lourdes is set to become the first member of the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic conference to offer an eSports scholarship program. It will compete against other schools in the National Association of Collegiate eSports, which formed last year. LU plans to recruit up to 60 eSport athletes over the next couple of years. The downside to this program is that Lourdes is a Catholic and Franciscan institution which means that they made the conscious decision to shy away from first-person shooters.
Cory Cahill, Lourdes’ eSports director, says scholarships for competitive gaming are based on merit just like any other college sport. He plans for Lourdes to field three teams to compete in League of Legends, the fantasy multiplayer battle arena game. The university will look to add more games as its roster grows. Competitive gaming took off at the collegiate level after Robert Morris University became the first to offer scholarships for eSports in 2014 in Chicago.