Twitch (former TwitchTV) is doing the gaming television thing right. At least, that is, more right than past attempts. G4’s online coverage of the video game industry notwithstanding, its television network has never managed to drag itself out of the juvenile persona it was founded with at the end of the ‘90s. The less said about Spike’s game-based programming, the better. Say what you will about the Academy Awards, but at least the Oscars isn’t a glorified showcase for commercials. Web television like GameTrailers.com does a yeoman’s job, but it’s still very much based on an old-school, core audience’s perspective.
Twitch meanwhile has found its niche in devoting itself to eSports. Competitive, multiplayer gaming is just the sort of focus gaming television needed to grow out of its shell of teenage male perspective. Twitch is also doing good work outside of solid television programming. Twitch teamed up with gaming PC maker Alienware and sponsor SteelSeries to distribute $50,000 in scholarships to eSports competitors based not just on their professional gaming careers, but also academic achievement.
The five winners of the “Twitch & Alienware Scholarship,” sponsored by SteelSeries, were announced on Thursday morning. Antonio Revard is currently enrolled in Michigan State’s game design program and is a pro Counter-Strike player; Kevin Carlino of Arizona State is the host of Diablo Daily; League of Legends and StarCraft pro Joey Yurgelon is earning his degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Nevada; John Stockwell’s day job is getting a computer science degree at Penn State while kicking ass in Team Fortress 2 at night; and PhD candidate Kelli Dunlap, a Halo competitor, is currently finishing her dissertation research on the connection between games and mental health at the American School of Professional Psychology.
All five will receive $10,000.
“Live video game streaming is gaining momentum quickly as evidenced by the traffic to Twitch as well as the increase in pro tournaments, partnerships, charity drives, developer showcases and sponsor interest,” crows Twitch CEO Emmett Shear in a company press release, “The avid professional gaming and spectator community has helped us thrive with more than 20 million visitors a month, and this scholarship is our way of showing appreciation for their passion while reinforcing our commitment to what we view as a legitimate sport.”
Yes, yes: Twitch is popular, as are Alienware and SteelSeries. Huzzah. Marketing speech aside though, these scholarships will do more to legitimize eSports than any number of sponsors for pro gaming events. Fostering video games as a respected part of the academy is noble work.
Congrats to the winners.