"I Play Video Games for Scholarship Money."
My name is Shawn Davis – I play video games for scholarship money at Kent State University and honestly, it’s pretty rad.
I played “Starcraft” as a kid and watched Koreans like Lim Yo-hwan, aka “BoxeR,” on national television play the same game I did, thinking my sub 50-actions-per-minute playstyle could one day emulate what he was doing. Despite not having a lot of firsts here as a transfer student from South Dakota, I can gladly say that my time at Kent State and playing for the team here has provided me the absolute pleasure of meeting many old and new friends in the Northeast region.
I currently play on the Kent State University varsity esports team in “Overwatch,” but my time with esports started when I joined a small student-run Discord community in South Dakota’s School of Mines and Technology in 2018. I just jumped in a call, hung out, played a few matches and before you knew it – I had gravitated into a position where I had the privilege of being the varsity captain of the first sponsored collegiate “Overwatch” team in South Dakota.
What I can say about the experiences in South Dakota is, above all else, we tried. We showed up and despite the rigors of young adulthood, classes, finals and an entire global pandemic – the team stuck together. You will create bonds so strong, so impermeable that will last you throughout your entire career. I still keep in touch with my former teammates. Oh, did I mention we landed in the top 16th for the TESPA National Championship?
That competition had 1,350 schools – some with way more money, fancier jerseys and the choicest of gamer chairs.
After that, I transferred to Kent State to pursue my intended degree in journalism. I like magazines – grew up reading all kinds, which is where I learned about Kent State and its programs.
Take it from me – above all else, the city of Kent and the University have been uniquely welcoming toward all. I have never felt completely outcast here. I mean, it’s not like the town is going to shower you with bouquets upon your arrival, but the campus, downtown, campus life and all that? It’s full of warmth and a spirit of camaraderie I certainly did not feel in my former school.
Whether you’re stopping by a café for a light lunch or going out with friends in the quaint but cheery night life, the people here are full of that old midwestern hospitality, and really bar down to help each other feel a little less homesick.
You’ve heard it everywhere else – it’s not always what you know, it’s who you know. And for those who are career-minded, what better way to network and meet people (who are also full of those gamer wits) than a group that brings together gamers for scrimmages, matches and tournaments than a collegiate esports team?
It’s how someone like me from South Dakota can tell you about my friends across the United States – working jobs for Google, TikTok, Wells Fargo – you name it, the opportunities are there.
I met my current coach from our time scrimmaging – it’s all in the networking.
Combine networking opportunities with that warm spirit of Kent State and you’re bound for a collegiate experience that will welcome you, challenge you, and above all else set you on a path that gives you a chance to really prove something and make changes for the better.
Whatever path you chose in your collegiate endeavors, I hope above all else you are kind to yourself – but only if you take a role in esports for your school. I mean, seriously, it’s so fun. Especially if you’re already into gaming.
There’s nothing like the rush of hunting your opponents down and winning for your team on a school broadcast livestream. Your heart will beat, your hands will shake, and to thunderous applause you’ll relish in the memories of succeeding as a team. I graduate at the end of the spring 2023 semester, so the torch is all yours. GLHF.