Robert Morris University, a college in Aurora, IL announced today that Riot Games’ popular MOBA League of Legends will become a varsity sport at the school. They’re going to compete in tournaments, hold practices, have a coach…they’re even offering scholarships for prospective students.
This is probably the biggest eSports news since Visas were granted to pro eSports players last summer. Note that I said biggest, not best. Visas for players is fantastic, as that allows people who are already deep on their career path to continue their career in America. robert Morris University adding LoL as a varsity sport is also fantastic. I’m 100% for anything that furthers the popularity of eSports. However, one of the most important parts of this is also the part that bugs me the most: Robert Morris University awarding scholarships for eSports could be dangerous.
Just like in traditional sports, there’s an extremely slim chance that one will be able to play competitive video games professionally. Not only that, but eSports are less popular, which means that there is less money in the business. The quality of life is arguably worse than traditional sports, due to how much time is spent practicing, but that’s an argument I don’t have numbers for. The point is, I think scholarships for students might encourage them to go down a very risky path, one that they should take on if it is their passion, but one they should be aware of the dangers of.
When I first got into game journalism, I knew it was something I was very passionate about. As I delved deeper into it, I realized that it was a much harder path than I thought. My motivation has not dropped; I still want to to this with all my heart. I would never wish to rob that of someone who looks up to teams like Dignitas and Na’Vi as their heroes. But, I do wish that someone had told me the realities of game journalism before I got into it. I doubt it would have swayed my decision, but for someone less passionate than me, it might have. They might have majored in a different field; filled out an application to a different university. I don’t consider it “taking the money” or anything like that, but making a more informed decision.
eSports has a long way to go until it becomes big. Things like this help a ton, but the damage it can do to those who see it as a hobby is pretty large. Does that fall upon the players, or the industry? Should we work to progress the medium of eSports/Video Games/anything not taken seriously, regardless of the cost, or should we keep ourselves aware the the damage we could be doing to those who make bad decisions, even if the decisions are their fault?
I think I’m getting a little too large in scope for this post. But my main point still remains: Make sure you’re informed about what you’re going into when you’re striving for a career. Sometimes, you won’t know until you get there (just like me), and sometimes you’ll know before you even give it a shot. Big ups to RMU for this, as it’s a huge step forward for eSports being known as something that is here to stay. The best way to make something popular is to pretend it already is.