Ashland University is the first college to add Fortnite to its program. Head coach Josh Buchanan remarked, “Fortnite appeals to both the core and casual gaming audience. We're excited to provide this platform for gamers who want to showcase their skills in a more competitive space. Fortnite facilitates an environment that allows players to get creative, innovate and show off their mastery of their skills.” The program will organize Fortnite four-player teams that will practice and compete together.
The college already boasts League of Legends, Overwatch, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Rocket League teams. They plan to build a gaming center on the bottom floor of their library that would include twenty five gaming stations. Construction is expected to start by the end of April and the college has already obtained sponsorships from OPSEAT and Sloth Esports.
Robert Morris University, Illinois in Chicago was the first university to include a scholarship-sponsored esports team in 2014. There are currently over 50 private and public colleges and universities throughout the United States that offer similar programs and a National Association of Collegiate Esports. Some of the colleges include Georgia State University, King University, Miami University, and the University of California, Irvine.
Eports are particularly popular among younger generations. A recent study by the University of Massachusetts, Lowell and the Washington Post determined that esports are almost as popular as football among 14 to 21-year-olds. Professor Joshua Dyck, co-director of the University of Massachusetts, Lowell Center for Public Opinion remarked, “The popularity of e-sports and online gaming among American teens and young adults as both a recreational activity that you participate in or can also watch reveals a shifting landscape for what constitutes a sport in American life...The reasons teens and young adults give for participating in esports/online gaming mirror many of those given in our survey of adults 18 and older about why they watch live sports.”
Interested gamers can apply for the Ashland University program here. Open tryouts will be announced soon. Scholarship amounts will be based on a player’s skill level and academic performance.