When ESPN broadcasted a collegiate esports match last spring, my Twitter timeline—heavily populated by fans of “traditional” sports like baseball and football—erupted with a mix of snarky jokes and comments along the lines of, “I can’t believe I’m watching this.” Regardless of whether or not you like esports, they aren’t going away. In fact, one university is about to make a big push into the realm of esports.
Last week, the University of California, Irvine announced what it claims is a “first-of-its-kind official e-sports initiative” that will kick off this fall. The plan includes the construction of an “esports arena” in the student center—complete with a studio for livestreaming competitions—and the school will offer up to ten scholarships to members of UC Irvine’s esports team.
The 3500-square-foot esports arena will feature 80 gaming PCs, and will be used for classes in addition to gaming, according to UC Irvine.
It looks as though UC Irvine’s esports team will have plenty of support on campus, too: according to the university, “a recent survey of students found that 72 percent identify as gamers and 89 percent support the creation of an e-sports team.”
So the next time someone tries to tell you that gaming is a waste of time, here’s another piece of evidence that suggests otherwise.