Gaming the System: Professional Gamers Turn Play into Profits

Early in December, the New York Times ran a piece looking at the rise of video game teams on college campuses. With more than 10,000 university students now competing for such bastions of higher education as Harvard and Robert Morris University, these “e sport” athletes now outnumber those student athletes who play Division I basketball.

Scholarships for such skilled athletes have now become trendy, and thus, can corporate sponsorship soon be far behind? Given both the number and market capitalization of many of the gaming related companies and peripheral products targeting gamers, let alone college educated ones, it seems that this would be an inevitable trend.

As media venues have observed, such as Entertainment Weekly’s annual look at the size of the gaming industry, the entertainment world was overtaken several years ago by that of the gamers. Today, we now routinely see both new games’ development budgets, and that for their subsequent marketing rollout, surpass that of many films released. With more people now playing videogames worldwide than golf, this blend of activity and leisure pursuit seems a perfect fit for college campuses.

And, just like many top D1 football and basketball players can aspire to one day graduating to a professional career, so too do these top gamers. With pioneers such as Johnathan ‘Fatal1ty’ Wendel, having laid the game plan for professional gamers making a living at their craft, the hope to “Turn Pro”, might now be a reality for these college student athletes.