I believe the children are our are future was famously sang by Whitney Houston and the future of our children is online education and knowledge. That is to say that the more digital opportunities communities provide for their youth, the further that generation can push it’s people into a progressive state of living.
“I originally heard about it at the beginning of the year, but didn’t think much about it,” admitted FHS e-gaming advisor John Grunwald. “The more I looked into it, the more I found it wasn’t just about video games, it was about bringing different kids together that wouldn’t normally be together. Some kids don’t fit into choir or band or athletics.”
There are more than thirty U.S. colleges and universities that offer scholarships for gamers with the University of Utah being one of the larger sports schools to offer scholarships for video gaming.
The university currently offers players partial scholarships, with the goal of offering full scholarships while Robert Morris University was the first college in the U.S. to offer scholarships for gaming, worth up to $19,000 a year.
The National Association of Collegiate Esports is home to over 31 video game scholarship-sponsored programs.
“Colleges are giving away full-ride scholarships which is giving an avenue to a whole new group of kids,” explained Grunwald. “Not just gamers, but managers and shout casters. These kids have skills and work towards goals together while using communication and team work with cooperation and leadership,” added the Trojan skipper.
Grunwald wants to build teams for different games because they are forming an Iowa High School Esports League that “will have a soft season at the beginning of the year with Smash Bros. Ultimate and other games,” while working on setting a permanent season and following the same guidelines as other sports “so that it is legitimate.”
“We joined the North American Scholastic Esports Federation where you set up your club and have to meet certain game requirements but get help from professional gamers,” said Grunwald who was able to secure 10 gaming headsets from HyperX for free for joining the federation.
“They also have contests for logo design and help with web design which creates more opportunities for kids, even if they don’t want to play,” continued Grunwald. “They can find a spot on the team and get scholarship money, too! It’s great to see them grow and work towards a goal where nobody is judging them. It’s really cool.”
“We started out with Fortnite,” said Grunwald. “League of Legends is a big one and I want to organize a team, but not a lot of kids were playing that. We want to do more paid games like Overwatch, but we don’t want to eliminate kids due to cost of games.”
The group also has to decide how to handle more graphic games and they do try to watch which games are played.
“A lot of kids play sports games or Rocket League which is just soccer with cars,” explained Grunwald. “We did a couple of tournaments at WACO and they played Fortnite and are looking at Smash Bros. Ultimate.”
Gaming space needed
“The main effort was to not cost the school any money, because we didn’t want to hit road blocks because of cost,” said Grunwald.
“We were trying to find computers in the district that would work and found some, but not to the extent that the kids can play at home. Although they wanted to come, they could have a better gaming experience at home. So, the first step is to get a gaming style computer that can also be used as a lab so it has a duel purpose. People or businesses could sponsor the lab the way pro arenas do.”
FHS applied for a grant and received one and are hoping for another, but they can always use donations.
“We feel if we have the hardware that the kids need, they will come. When they do, they have another reason to be at school and that can help us reach more kids that struggle in school or to find their niche. If they can play on better hardware at home, we lose out on that opportunity to connect. WACO was designed and built by their students. We can have chairs and machines and relaxed furniture along with study areas so that the players can have good grades to be able to play. Creating a cool place helps get the kids to school, get their grades up and allows them to hone their skills so they can get a scholarship because some of them aren’t going to get a sports or arts scholarship but they could get a gaming scholarship or earn a web design degree.”
Grunwald said that they are just trying to build in all kinds of different areas and get a whole mix of kids.
“This gives us the chance to get together with students from other schools and there are competitions and friendship and we can build bridges with other districts through e-sports. We just need to get the kids together with the equipment they need to play on.”