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Caleb Paarmann, foreground, is focused on a game of League of Legends that he is playing alongside Todd Kuhn (to Paarmann's right) during the 25-hour video game marathon to raise funds for the Children's Miracle Network through Rapid City Regional Hospital in 2014. 

Starting this fall, students at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology can seek a certificate in esports, the state Board of Regents decided Thursday.

“It’s kind of a unique program,” Jay Perry, a regents assistant vice president for academic affairs, said about the new offering at the Rapid City campus. “There are professional ranks. It’s on television.”

Mines President Jim Rankin said it’s more than players competing at video games.

“These are skills that are going to help no matter what,” Rankin told the regents. “I think you’re going to see a lot of interest in it.”

There are about 80 universities in a national esports organization, according to Rankin, and six or seven universities might form a league that Mines could join.

Of the 12 credits required for the certificate, all of the courses are already available, other than the new one-credit esports class.

Regent Jim Morgan of Brookings laid it on the line: “Might it replace football sometime?” he asked.

“I’ll refrain from answering that,” Rankin replied.

“Credit for playing a game: That’s a good deal,” Morgan said.

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