CATAWBA COUNTY, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) - Gone are the days of telling your kids to stop playing video games—now, it could actually pay off.
“Get off that game you know? I never thought I could get a scholarship through something I love to do,” e-sports athlete Megan Horton said.
A local college is now recruiting students to play e-sports.
“It’s competitive gaming and you have a defined objective trying to play against another team or school,” Gidd Sasser said.
He coaches the Catawba College e-sports team, a growing program of about 20 gamers, and they're not what you might expect.
“That it's a bunch of lazy gamers - basement dwellers, very far off, most of us are ex-athletes, I wrestled in college at our other school," athlete Christian Horrigan said.
The school offers scholarships to these student athletes. Like traditional sports teams, they work out and must do the school work. Sasser oversees recruiting
“Anywhere from getting lucky to connections, or I randomly find them or a lot of online digging or the ranking systems in the games themselves,” Sasser said.
Lake Norman High School senior Devin Yates committed to Catawba.
“I didn't expect this all this time playing video games is helping me in college,” Yates said.
Growing up, he played soccer, but always had a passion for gaming. His parents are proud.
“I never thought he would have gotten money to go to school for video games. It's unreal to me,” mom Debbie Yates said.
But times and teams are changing. The overall e-sports industry this year is expected to bring in more than $1 billion in global revenue.
Sasser expects the collegiate level boom to continue, and like so many coaches, the experience is about far more than the game.
“I want you to get the degree, experience, and join the workforce. That's what higher education should do,” he said.