Are there scholarships for video game players?

By: Kate Kershner

Scholarships for video games? You bet. Gamers can get scholarships for their skills at places like the Pokémon world championships.
Scholarships for video games? You bet. Gamers can get scholarships for their skills at places like the Pokémon world championships.
© Sergei Bachlakov/Xinhua Press/Corbis

You've already defensively informed your mother that there are, in fact, scholarships for gamers during a heated argument about whether your time spent playing "World of Warcraft" is worthwhile as an academic exercise. Your mother probably looked at you pretty skeptically and told you to prove it. So here you are, desperately hoping you correctly remembered that local news segment about the kid who got into college by earning scholarships for gaming.

Well, good news, kiddo! Not only are there scholarships available based on video game performance and achievement, but there are scholarships for those who want to design, program or even study the gaming industry. Better yet: You could snag an athletic scholarship — just like the star quarterback — and join a college gaming team. The dream is alive, buddy.


Let's start with the scholarships that might most surprise your mom: the ones where you actually get money to compete as a gamer in competitions. In 2014, Robert Morris University in Chicago made headlines when it began offering scholarships for an e-sports program at the school. The school handed out 35 scholarships for the program, and they weren't just cute $500 tokens: One student's room, board and tuition were cut in half, which is no small beans at a school where those costs can top out around $30,000 a year [source: Sanserino]. And at least one other school is following suit: The University of Pikeville in Kentucky is also offering scholarships for "League of Legends" gamers, who will compete in tournaments and games just like varsity athletics in your run-of-the-mill college programs [source: Glover]. Mom will be so excited.

But that's not all. If you're interested in the gaming industry in general, quite a few scholarships are available for you. The popular Penny Arcade Web comic offers a $10,000 scholarship every year to a student who has "the most potential to impact the gaming industry" [source: Penny Arcade]. Daybreak Games (formerly Sony Online Entertainment) also offers a couple of really cool scholarships. The Gamers in Real Life (G.I.R.L.) Scholarship offers students $5,000 toward tuition or enrollment expenses — plus an internship [source: Daybreak Games]. The scholarship isn't just open to females, but it is designed to encourage positive female representation in games and the gaming industry. You can enter into the art and design or programming and engineering categories. The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences also offers a couple of scholarships to students trying to get into the gaming industry [source: AIAS].

And these are just a few of the options available. We're not including the numerous ways you could convince a scholarship committee that your commitment to "Zelda" (is that still a thing?) makes you a hot commodity. So be creative, gamer, and don't listen to Mom. It's very possible that your game is her gain.


Lots More Information

Related Articles

  • Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences (AIAS). "Randy Pausch Scholarship Fund." (June 5, 2015).
  • College Scholarships. "Video Game Player & Game Design College Scholarships." 2015. (May 19, 2015)
  • Daybreak Games. "Daybreak Games G.I.R.L. Scholarship Program." 2015. (May 19, 2015)
  • Glover, Erika. "UPIKE Is Second College in the Country to Make Video Games a Varsity Sport." Jan. 6, 2015. (May 19, 2015)
  • Gregory, Sean. "Meet America's First Video Game Varsity Athletes." TIME. March 27, 2015. (May 19, 2015)
  • International Game Developers Association. "IGDA Scholarships." (May 19, 2015)
  • Markovich, Matt. "UW Students Win Scholarship Money Playing Video Games." Feb. 4, 2015. (May 19, 2015)
  • Penny Arcade. "PA Scholarship." 2015. (May 19, 2015)
  • Sanserino, Michael. "Video Games Gain New Ground With Athletic Scholarships." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Nov. 23, 2014. (May 19, 2015)
  • Scholarship America. "Check Out 6 Scholarships for Gamers." U.S. News & World Report. Nov. 1, 2012. (May 19, 2015)
  • Wingfield, Nick. "E-Sports at College, With Stars and Scholarships." The New York Times. Dec. 8, 2014. (May 19, 2015)