In a custom-built, tricked out room on the third floor of a downtown Chicago building, college students are making history as part of the nation’s first varsity eSports squad.
“Tap, tap, tap go their mouses and keyboards. Tap tap tap, as their knees impulsively shake up and down. Tap, tap, tap, as their screens blur with motion, explosions and messages that outsiders can’t possibly comprehend. Tap, tap, tap, as they speak to their teammates through fancy headsets.
“We can close this game right now.”
“Just wait. Just wait.”
“Why is she alive!?”
“Help me out there.”
“Oh, please don’t. Please don’t.”
“Dude. What the f***?”
“Are you going to die?”
“I got one. I got one.”
“Oh my god, I so walked into that.”
Welcome back My Dear Shoevians to The Other Shoe. While rummaging through the ‘news of the day’ I ran across this article at CNN. Seems gamers, just like myself, are now getting scholarships to college by just playing games… very well. This phenomenon is a boon to gamers of all walks of life, as the following story shows.
“When he graduated from high school in the small town of Ava, Missouri, Andrew Casey had no idea where his life was going. He wasn’t college bound like some people he knew and lived at home, finding work at a nearby Taco Bell.
He found meaning caring for his grandmother, who had moved in with his family as she was dying of cancer. He fed her, gave her medicines and lifted her up when she needed to move. It was the sort of compassion for others her son had always exhibited, says his mother, Kim Rolling. Just like the time he asked her to buy a special elementary school T-shirt for a classmate who couldn’t afford one himself.
After his grandmother passed away, Andrew, 22, had nothing but time.
Some friends suggested he check out League of Legends. He’d been drawn to computer games since he was about 3, when he first got his hands on an old-school Nintendo and played Mario Bros. with his grandparents. He went online to see what his friends were talking about and was immediately sold.
“All my stress disappeared,” he says.
His mother won’t lie when she thinks about how much time he spent in front of computer screens.
“It did drive me crazy,” Rolling says. “I was always telling him, ‘You’re never going to get anywhere playing video games.'”
Now, she’s eating her words. Gladly.
It’s this opportunity to play at RMU that got her son thinking about college and bigger possibilities. And now that he’s there, he’s thriving.
The same story gets told by other parents, including one who suspects her son flunked out of his first college because of video games. Now at RMU, where his playing is tied to a scholarship and students must maintain a benchmark GPA, she boasts that her son made the dean’s list.
Some students on the squad haven’t lasted. They weren’t able to strike the right balance between academics and gaming. Or maybe the school wasn’t the right fit. Or Chicago wasn’t for them.
But for Rolling and other parents, the program has been a blessing, even if it hasn’t been easy watching their kids leave the nest.
Her son went from a town with one traffic light to embracing big-city living. He’s majoring in graphic arts, has a girlfriend and a circle of good friends. He’s part of a team and, in that capacity, being true to himself.”
“My role is to help people out,” he says of his League of Legends position. “I’ll do anything so my friends on my team don’t die.”
Opportunity is where you look for it, or so it would seem for Andrew Casey. My Dear Shoevians I cannot express my delight that young men and women can now advance their education, and create an otherwise unavailable opportunity, by be the best they can at gaming. I have played, been a gamer, since Pong and PacMan games made their appearance. Now I overcome my feelings of physical inadequacy by riding horses, running and swimming in games like; World of Warcraft, Aion, Rift and Age of Conan. These games give me an outlet that would, otherwise, be unavailable to a person with my disabilities.
I can accomplish tasks (quests), ride a horse thorough lush and beautiful forest, and swim deep into a lake or ocean. In game my disabilities disappear and I am capable and able to do anything my heart desires. Gaming has tremendous possibilities for our current society, and for millions of people with disabilities. Now. they offer opportunity to those who thought they were without. Gaming is great… and it seems to just keep getting greater.
© 2010 – 2015 Hanning Web Wurx and The Other Shoe