It finally happened. Playing video games can get you into college. At least it can get you a scholarship to one of the U.S colleges now offering Scholarships for pro gaming. If you're good enough that is, and before the thought crosses your mind no, your late-night Mario Kart skills won't cut it.

As E-sports and streaming are rapidly becoming the most watched new media, more and more U.S colleges are betting that this is not a fly-by-night fad and that there is a future in the big business of pro gaming. Colleges are looking not just at the players, but at the many facets of the industry built around them.

What are e-sports and why is it such a big deal?

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've doubtless heard the term E-sports before. Even if you've never watched it and could not care less, you've most likely heard the term. The idea has been around for a while: incredibly good players face off against one another for prize money, and people pay to watch or watch for free at home, just like regular sports, but, you know, electronic.

In the late 1990's through the 2000s, competitions for the game Starcraft pulled in more viewers in South Korea than baseball does in the United States.

Beginning in the 2010s however, e-sports viewership began to skyrocket. In 2013 it was estimated that 71 million people watched e-sports. By 2015, that number had jumped to 226 million, and the estimated revenue generated by e-sports that year was $325 million. One year later it was $493 million.

Why do colleges care?

If the trends mentioned above continue, like it or not, competitive video gaming will be a part of everyday life.

Video games themselves are a huge part of life for many Americans, with many more average hours spent playing games than reading. It is a fact of life that people who enjoy doing things, also enjoy seeing those things done at a very high level. The game League Of Legends sold out Madison Square Garden with its world championships in 2016.

More than just the players themselves, the near half-a-billion dollar industry also requires the same things that every large broadcasting and event industry needs: infrastructure, broadcasters, logistics, planners, designers etc. This translates to much more than just giving money to kids that are good at games, and, just like many schools offer sports business programs, expect schools to begin offering e-sports business programs.

Are e-sports just a fad?

No one knows for sure, but current trends suggest that it's not going anywhere soon. If it is, then perhaps this will be a giant blunder for the colleges willing to embrace e-sports. If not, however, then expect this to be the first step in a strange new future of spectator gaming. What's next? Street Fighter on ESPN?