The University of California, Irvine, starts League of Legends Scholarship
One of the most popular games in the world, League of Legends has managed to find its way to some of the most prestigious college campuses in the world. By the start of 2016 six private schools had started scholarships based on performance in the game and hundreds more have student-run clubs and teams under the school banner.
The University of California, Irvine announced today that it will become the first public university to launch a League of Legends esports scholarship program beginning in fall of 2016. Riot Games will be supporting the move by funding a new PC cafe on campus for all students to use. This cafe will be built in the model of Korean PC cafes and will offer a “premium League of Legends experience,” though other games will be available as well.
We look at regions like Korea where, since launch, PC cafes have been essential to Korean players,” said Michael Sherman, Riot’s collegiate program manager. “They expect a premium game experience when they go play in those PC cafes. We’re trying something out similar to that on college campuses. We want to give people a reason to be excited to come play at a PC cafe to support their school and team.
We expect other schools to follow our lead
If the deal works as Riot hopes, the developer plans to include other interested schools as a model to follow — the schools can start a new scholarship program, and Riot will help foot the bill for a fancy new PC cafe. Mark Deppe, the newly announced esports director at University of California, Irvine, believes other schools will not be far behind in embracing League of Legends and esports in general.
We think esports is growing quickly,we expect other schools to follow our lead. UCI is excited to be a leader. We don’t think we’re going to be the last school to do this. We think we’re going to be one of the schools that really encourages particularly public schools and shows them that this is really a viable thing. There’s lots of interest in this, and it can improve your school and improve interest in your school.
The goal, as Deppe pointed out, is not just to support League of Legends or esports, but to build a name for UC Irvine as a one of the most gamer-friendly schools in the nation.
We did a survey on campus with over 1,200 respondents. Seventy-two percent said they identify as a gamer. If we are the number one school for gamers, we’re going to be attracting a lot of people. We want to be a first-choice school, and I think if we’re the best gaming and esports school out there, then we can attract a lot of fantastic students.