- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 2, 2015

ROCKFORD, Ill. (AP) - Graham Eichstaedt has been gaming his whole life but only recently ventured into the world of high school eSports and scholarship opportunities.

“I don’t think my parents believed me when I told them that I could pay for college playing video games,” the 16-year-old Guilford sophomore said. “It’s amazing. … It would be a dream come true.”

Graham is one of 15 players on Guilford’s inaugural eSports team, students who compete in the High School Starleague’s League of Legends Division. Adlai Stevenson, Glenbard North, Neuqua Valley and Naperville North high schools also field teams.

League of Legends is a multiplayer online battle arena game. It’s one of the most popular MOBAs in the world. Students play the game - a digital version of capture the flag - in teams of five.

The district has a $22,000 budget for the team. Equipment, which consists of gaming laptops, headphones and microphones, arrived this month.

A transportation budget won’t be necessary because competitions can be staged online, and opponents can be anywhere in the world. Tournaments also could be held in newly renovated high school auditoriums. Administrators hope to use students’ interest in gaming to increase their engagement in school, in college preparation and in career development.

“We’re excited to support this opportunity for students who already have a passion for gaming and might want to build a career in the video game industry,” said James O’Hagan, director of instructional technology and library media services. There’s already interest from other Rockford public schools to form more teams.

“This requires teamwork, concentration, strategy and practice, much like other RPS 205 athletics,” said Mat Parker, director of athletic activities and program development. “Offering eSports at the school level is another way to involve our students in a school-sponsored activity and further connect with the overall school experience.”

Colleges and universities compete in eSports, too, and some schools have started offering scholarships. Robert Morris University announced last summer that it would award scholarships to qualified team members.

“I want them to try to go for scholarships,” Guilford eSports coach Jeff Pitner said. He’s been a gamer his whole life but never had the opportunity to compete for a scholarship using his gaming skills.

Students are learning valuable skills along the way, too.

“They’re not only learning to work together and develop communications skills, but they’re learning how to run a game. They’re learning commands,” assistant coach Nick Glowaty said. “There’s a lot of strategy involved.”

___

Source: Rockford Register Star, https://bit.ly/1HgfF3l

___

Information from: Rockford Register Star, https://www.rrstar.com

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide