Robert Morris University to offer computer gaming scholarships

AURORA, Ill. (WLS) -- Robert Morris University is now offering tens of thousands of dollars in free tuition and room and board to competitive computer gamers.

"You have physical sports - football and basketball and things like that - this is very mentally taxing game, especially when you are being pitted against five individuals, which you're both trying to achieve the same goal," said Robert Morris University senior Andrew Dixon from Lockport.

In the computer game League of Legends, the goal is to destroy your enemy's nexus - or nest. The prize: Potentially thousands of dollars in scholarship money.

"Not every student wants to play football or basketball or hockey, so this really allows us to broaden that competitive spirit within our students into other areas," said Nicole Farinella, Robert Morris University's vice president of enrollment.

A major tournament recently brought gamers from around the world to Los Angeles' Staples Center. The reward for the winning team was $1 million.

"You're playing in a team environment, there's strategy involved," said Kurt Melcher, Robert Morris University athletic director. "It takes a lot of practice, and these guys practice a lot to be good."

Dixon, who's also on the school's volleyball team, said there are more similarities than jocks may care to admit.

"Even when you lose, you're able to go back and evaluate your game play, a lot of time you can record matches and review them," Dixon said. "It's a lot like watching game film."

The scholarships cover 50 percent of tuition and 50 percent of room and board - as much as $19,000 per student. Robert Morris University is the first school in the nation to offer such large "e-sports" scholarships.
Related topics:
Copyright © 2019 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.