The University of California at Irvine is launching a big eSports initaitive this fall, with backing from League of Legends developer Riot Games and PC gaming seller iBuyPower.
The school will offer "as many as" 10 four-year academic scholarships to members of its League of Legends team.
The campus will be building a "premium" eSports center modeled on Korean PC cafes, according Riot Games' collegiate program manager Michael Sherman, as reported by Polygon. At 3,500 square feet, it will house 80 gaming PCs courtesy of iBuyPower.
"We expect other schools to follow our lead. UCI is excited to be a leader. We don't think we're going to be the last school to do this. We think we're going to be one of the schools that really encourages particularly public schools and shows them that this is really a viable thing. There's lots of interest in this, and it can improve your school and improve interest in your school," said the newly-installed head of UCI's eSports department, Mark Deppe, in the same Polygon interview.
“UCI eSports will be built on four pillars: competition, academics, entertainment and community,” said Thomas Parham, vice chancellor for student affairs, in a statement. "We hope to attract the best gamers from around the world," he also said.
According to the school, a recent poll of its students found that "72 percent identify as gamers and 89 percent support the creation of an eSports team." Deppe noted that the poll received over 1,200 responses.
"We’re honored to work with UCI to create a permanent home for gamers on campus and hope this will inspire similar programs at colleges and universities across North America," Riot's Ramon Hermann said in a statement.
Deppe said that the school has hopes to expand beyond League of Legends to other games in the future.
Take a look at the UCI eSports site if you like.