Think you’ve got what it takes to try out for your college’s StarCraft II or Heroes of the Storm team? According to Fortune, colleges around the United States are embracing the rise of eSports, competitive video game leagues organized by gaming companies like Blizzard Entertainment and televised by ESPN2. In addition to bragging rights, Blizzard Entertainment now offers college tuition money to winning teams who compete in StarCraft II, Hearthstone, or Heroes of the Storm.
Though college eSports don’t have the same viewership levels as, say, college football or basketball, they are growing in popularity: 899 college teams participated in last year’s Heroes of the Storm competition, called “Heroes of the Dorm,” and television ratings for the Grand Finals were high enough that ESPN plans to broadcast the competition again this year.
Like other college sports leagues, the Heroes of the Dorm competition pits multi-person teams against each other. Teammates must practice over the course of the semester, and victory depends not only on individual skills, but on their ability to work together. ESPN’s John Lasker told Fortune he believes that, like more traditional college sports, eSports are physically and mentally challenging, as well as engaging to watch. “These competitors and teams are uniquely skilled and talented,” Lasker told Fortune. “In that respect, it’s no different than how we would look at a talented basketball player or team. The best of the skilled and talented work hard to develop their mental and physical abilities to perform at the highest level of competition.”