MILWAUKEE — "Those video games will get you nowhere." It's a sentence uttered by parents across the world. Turns out, mom and dad might be wrong.
Esports is as competitive as power five football, and if you're good at it, a university right here in Wisconsin might be for you.
“I’ve been playing video games since I was 8, 9 years old," says Colby Williams, Fortnite player and CUW Esport athlete.
“I actually got my first Nintendo Gameboy, Christmas when I was 8 years old, so third grade," says Steven Pieroni, also a Fortnite player and CUW Esports athlete.
Colby and Steven are part of the Concordia Falcons Esports team.
“In college, it depends on the game, some games can be extremely high level, some games are low level," says Colby.
“We have matches on Wednesday and Thursday. So we have our classes, we come in here play for three hours and practice after too," says Steven.
Like any ball and stick sport, each member has a position or specialty. For Colby and Steven, that's Fortnite.
“There are six guys, so two trios, and so there are games where both of the teams are in the same game. We’ll end up fighting and it’s always fun to talk about after," says Steven.
Unlike most collegiate sports, Esports teams compete from all over the country and aren't sanctioned by divisions and conferences.
"I mean I’m playing people that do that for a living, and then they go to school. They get a full-ride scholarship for that because that’s how good they are," says Colby.
Concordia doesn't offer scholarships yet, but these players are catching the eyes of top professional teams. Steven and Colby are the latest to cash in on the recent NCAA changes, signing with Wisconsin-based FLu Esports.
“It’s pretty surreal that you're playing video games and making money. You grow up just getting on with your friends and now you have a chance of actually making it a career," says Steven
You heard him right: living off gaming.
“It depends on the person, but I’d say average $70,000 a year. I’ve had friends that have done it big time and they make a lot more than that," says Colby.
Who knows? If you find a game you're good out, you might be able to make it your day job.
“I would definitely say master one game, just like if you are going to college for a physical sport, you focus on that one sport. The better you are at one game, the more successful you’ll be and the more money you’ll be able to make," says Steven.