Jersey City — Every day aspiring college students are reminded of the competitive landscape ahead of them as they pursue scholarship opportunities to fund their degrees. As a digital generation, Gen Z is pioneering a niche category of scholarship awards that reflects their interest in gaming.
While historic pillars for scholarship eligibility have revolved around academics, community service or athletics – the introduction of esports as an avenue for individuals to accrue income has made the sector of interest to colleges and universities.
In the same way that independent content creators have monetized video content on platforms like YouTube, Instagram or TikTok – gamers have been able to monetize themselves through streaming platforms like Twitch and through winning esports tournaments.
Individuals like early-age Millennial Johan 'n0tail’ Sundstein, 29, for example have earned a reported $7 million from esports tournaments since beginning his career at the age of 15.
To date, there are over 150, of the 5,000+, colleges or universities in the U.S. that are members of the National Association of Collegiate Esports and offer varsity esports – a variety of which offer partial or full tuition scholarships.
Similar to the benefits of physical sports, collegiate-level esports teams can provide players with exposure to professional coaches, practice facilities and an opportunity to become a professional player later in life.
This avenue of scholarship eligibility is particularly interesting because it appeals to a non-traditional demographic of students eligible for scholarships.
The irony to me as an elder Gen Z in the world is that for decades, the generation has been told to steer away from video game dependence to avoid strained eyes and to increase in-person socialization instead. Yet, today, gaming serves as an arguably revolutionary multi-way path avenue to financial compensation.
In my college days, one of the most common ways that I saw men in particular make extra cash was through betting on the outcome of group-centered esports games like NBA2K, Madden, etc.
To think that if those same students were instead offered an opportunity to play an institution-based esports team in exchange for a scholarship is pleasantly mind boggling to me.
As technology continues to evolve and become integral parts of our everyday lives, it makes sense to create different ways for individuals to capitalize off of it.
The introduction of esports scholarships and the overall evolution of esports tournaments is allowing the once often secluded demographic of gamers to win big beyond the comfort of their own four walls.
Keeping it gee, I’m optimistic about the future of esports scholarships and the opportunities that it can provide to Gen Z and even Generation Alpha (born between 2011-2025).