As esports gain more visibility in the media, a similar trend continues to spread through academia. Stephens College is the latest addition to the growing world of collegiate competitive gaming with a ground-breaking twist: it's the first women's school to offer a scholarship for varsity esports.

In an interview with ESPN, the college stated it considered starting an esports team for almost a year before settling on Overwatch, chosen for its diverse cast of characters. Players on the team will receive partial scholarships and have access to the same facilities and resources as the school's other varsity groups. "Our mission is to ensure that women can succeed and can make choices about anything they do in any environment and in any profession," explained Dianne Lynch, president of Stephens College.

The college is currently recruiting players with hopes to find six starters and six subs. The team will then participate in this fall's Overwatch TESPA Cup, a collegiate esports tournament that attracted 220 teams last year. "It's time for a women's institution and women's culture to stand up and say, 'We can do this, and we expect to be treated with civility, and we expect the competition will be about talent rather than anything else,'" Lynch said. 

Check out the University of Utah, another recent addition to varsity esports, as well as the story of a fighting game documentary overcoming incredible odds to become a cult hit.

[Source: ESPN via Dotesports]

 

Our Take
With King of the Kill appearing on prime time television and a growing number of college varsity teams getting media attention, esports is gaining more credibility in the public eye. It's awesome to see Stephens making sure women are a growing and visible part of the movement.