Opinion: Esports are growing; so are opportunities for gamers

Opinion: Esports are growing; so are opportunities for gamers

The gaming industry is thriving, and so are esports.

Esports (Electronic Sports Competitions) are competitive video games played across the globe from any console or PC.

At Virtual Reload, we have news that might surprise parents of video gamers: Your child could get college scholarships for playing video games. A growing number of colleges regionally and across the nation are entering the field, awarding scholarships for skilled gameplay.

Esports are very competitive, transcending a “trend” to become one of the fastest-growing activities in the country. As with concerts and traditional sporting events, tickets are sold for live esports tournaments that are also viewed by wide global audiences online.

We have a healthy community of gamers and gaming enthusiasts right here in our region. And least 14 post-secondary institutions from Upstate South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia are offering scholarships for skilled esports play.

In South Carolina, Erskine and Newberry Colleges offer scholarships. In North Carolina, it’s Belmont Abbey, Barton and Lees McRae colleges, while in Virginia, Marymount and the University of North America have gaming programs. And, institutions in Georgia such as Georgia State University also offer esports scholarships.

According to The National Association of Collegiate Esports, currently 195 colleges and universities nationwide offer esports scholarships. They are attracted to the global play- and-team strategy that esports promotes.

Newest gig economy job:Host of your own esports tournaments on Fortnite, Madden NFL, other video games

The games your child plays also could serve as a window to the profession of his or her dreams, including the chance to develop their own video game. Animation, scriptwriting, and systems engineering careers also can stem from the love of esports and video gameplay.

When I found out about esports and what is available to high school students graduating into college with scholarships, I decided to start an esports-focused company that coaches high school students.

I’m a foster dad, and I mentor youths in foster care. One young man I helped out was able to obtain an esports scholarship, which is every gamer’s dream come true. That’s what brought it home for me.

More students are devoting time to playing video games. A whopping 82 percent of them are opting to join an esports team without having participated in another extra-curricular activity, according to the Varsity Esports Foundation.

The esports industry is anticipated to grow in the coming years, outpacing traditional sports.

According to Market Research firm IBISWorld, video games in the US have benefited from stronger sales in games, downloadable content, consoles, and their corresponding products. Revenue attributed to online gaming services is expected to increase substantially in 2021, due to a largely homebound population during the pandemic, the firm has said. According to global figures from the games market research firm NewZoo, 2.7 billion gamers spend more than $159 billion on games annually, and that is projected to surpass $200 billion by 2023.

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