For a long time, eSports were considered extremely niche — nowadays, however, eSports are seemingly everywhere. From Call of Duty to Counter-Strike to StarCraft, eSports have taken the gaming industry by storm. Of course, League of Legends continues to be the front-runner for professionally-played video games — and now, thanks to a university in Missouri, those LoL skills may get you into college.
Starting this fall, Columbia College will be launching its own eSports team, complete with its own recruitment staff and practice lounge. On top of that, Columbia will offer scholarships to those who join the team — that's right, League of Legends could end up paying for your education. Whether or not the scholarships will cover all or some of the school's $10,000 tuition fees are still up in the air, but the idea of gaming covering any college expenses is still relatively unheard of.
Columbia College's president, Scott Dalrymple, originally came up with the idea after competing against a number of students in a game of Madden '15. Unsurprisingly, Dalrymple (via KOMU-8) is 100 percent behind the idea of high-level gaming as a legitimate sport:
"eSports aren't the future. They're the present. True skill at video gaming is just as impressive — and just as legitimate — as excellence in traditional sports."
Columbia College isn't the only school that's offering scholarships in exchange for eSports skills, either: Kentucky's University of Pikeville is launching a similar program later this year, and the University of Illinois now includes eSports play as part of its athletics program. Even Riot Games, the developer behind League of Legends, offers scholarship funding as part of its college-level league.
There's no word yet on whether or not kids who skip class to play video games will be punished or rewarded.
For more on Columbia College's new eSports program, head on over to the school's official site.