Thankfully, gamers have come a long way from getting beat up on the blacktop for playing Yu-Gi-Oh and trading Pokémon. Now that schools across the U.S. are sponsoring varsity eSports teams, skipping your history homework to finish Dying Light seems like a perfectly legitimate excuse. Plus, since eSports isn’t yet regulated by the NAIA or the NCAA, no one’s stopping college gamers from getting paid to compete. Who cares what your parents think—there’s just so much incentive.
If you love gaming more than life itself, you don’t have to give it up for an education. Button-mash your way to a degree at these 10 colleges with the best game design programs, the coolest hardware and the most competitive gaming teams.
1. UC Irvine
Zot zot zot! The weather might be nice in Cali, but who needs sunlight anyway? Not when you can join one of the strongest squads in collegiate eSports. Headed by Linh “Reduron” Pham, UC Irvine swept the IvyLoL National Championships three years back-to-back-to-back. The Anteaters are a force to be reckoned with—but they’re also a close-knit family that organizes club dinners as often as tournaments. “UCI attracts a lot of gamers academically as well, since not only is it a great university, it has a very strong Computer Game Science program and major,” said Kathy Chiang, president of The Association of Gamers at UCI. “Despite all the professional-level events we hold that tend to separate us from other gaming clubs, we love focusing on our college gaming culture and community by having smaller meet-ups where our members can just socialize and make friends with other gamers that share their interests.” With a gaming community half a thousand students strong, UC Irvine proves that games are only fun if you have people to share them with.