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Online gaming skills are offering new opportunities

August 30, 2016

Gaming fans are excited about the possibility of eSports scholarships.

College students who are online gaming enthusiasts are eager to take advantage of a new trend: eSports scholarships that reward exceptional players for their skills. | PHOTO COURTESY OF NOAH PUMPHREY

College scholarships are nothing new for football and basketball players, and academic scholarships are commonplace, too. But junior Noah Pumphrey is making a bit of history these days as one of the first recipients of a KontrolFreek College eSports Scholarship.

Pumphrey works in tech support at the School of Informatics and Computing. His scholarship from KontrolFreek, an online gaming company, is a new type of financial support that Pumphrey believes will become more prevalent in the future.

"I believe eSports scholarships will become very common," he said. "Already, there are 12 colleges and universities in the U.S. that officially give out varsity scholarships to eSports athletes. Many organizations, such as KontrolFreek, give them out as well."

Pumphrey, who leads a student organization called eSports@IUPUI, indicated that "we plan to provide our own student-funded scholarship this spring."

Noah Pumphrey

Noah Pumphrey, right, is building a reputation as a top-flight online gamer, and his skill has earned him an eSports scholarship from a gaming company. Pumphrey is a leader for IUPUI's eSports gaming student organization. | PHOTO COURTESY OF NOAH PUMPHREY

Pumphrey is a computer information technology major and earned his scholarship for his performance on IUPUI's League of Legends and Overwatch teams. He started his online gaming career as a high school sophomore at Connersville, Ind., and hopes to turn his passion into an eSports career.

Gaming "makes it seem like the world is full of possibilities," Pumphrey said. At IUPUI, he joined the campus League of Legends club and made the club's competitive team. The SOIC student got so involved that he helped launch the gaming organization.

On a trip to California for an eSports leadership retreat, he got some advice: Consider a career in the gaming industry.

"They told me the industry is exploding and is in desperate need of passionate talent," Pumphrey said. "No matter where your education lies, you have a skill set that can benefit the industry."

One team he met featured students who majored in English, computer science and even anthropology. "It's honestly about passion and finding a way to apply what you know to the industry, Pumphrey said. "If you do that, it will land you a career in eSports right now."

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