Esports lab opens at Waukesha County Technical College; 80 enrolled

Popular and profitable. Video games have taken on new significance on college campuses across Wisconsin. 

Waukesha County Technical College (WCTC) has a new esports lab – rows and rows of video games. Leaders at the school hope esports will boost enrollment. Players hope to turn virtual wins into real cash. 

Sam Riek is blasting away in a game of "Rocket League." He is one of 80 students enrolled in WCTC's new esports program. The 1,800 square foot gaming lab opened on Tuesday, Sept. 19.

"My goal is to just earn some money during college," Riek said. 

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Coach Ian Sheeley said $18 million in scholarships are available to students across the country – just to play competitive video games at the college level. 

WCTC students must maintain at least a 2.0 GPA to stay on the team. Sheeley hopes they learn problem-solving and critical thinking skills. 

At 26 years old, Sheeley said he has already logged three years as a professional in the industry. 

"98% of people under 18 play video games – on their phones, console or PC," said Brandon Tschacher, founder of Milwaukee Esports Alliance

Milwaukee Esports Alliance connects 30 Wisconsin colleges and technical colleges with an esports program. Tschacher said students are not just clicking their way to tuition, they are earning a living. 

"Many people pay for their rent, or a lot of things with their esports winnings," Tschacher said. 

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Riek just wants to win. 

"It’s a source of entertainment.  For all of us.  Just to give us a break from everything going on around us," Riek said. 

WCTC hopes to hold future tournaments at their campus. The coach said everyone is welcome to join the team – regardless of experience. 

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