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Last updated May 30, 2023

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4 Questions to Ask If You're Considering Writing Your College Essay About Video Games

Key Takeaway

Video games aren't off-limits for college essays, but there are a few questions you should ask yourself before you start writing. Ultimately, your college essay should be about you—your strengths or values, contributions to a community, or an extraordinary level of achievement.

The two main concerns I hear from students who are considering writing their college essay about video games are that the topic isn’t “academic” enough, and that the admission officer might think video games are a waste of time.  I read many essays about video games as an AO for 8 years, and I found some compelling while others missed the mark. Here are four questions to ask if you are considering writing about video games.

A “no” to any of these questions doesn’t mean you can’t write about video games, but you might consider a different topic if at least some of these aren’t true for you:

  1. Is this where I spend most of my time outside of school?

Your personal statement and supplemental essays don’t have to discuss the activity where you spend the most amount of time, but you should consider how many hours per week you spend on different activities.  If video games (or any activity) is not at or near the top of this list, consider if there is another impactful activity you might write about that would offer greater insight into who you are.

  1. Is playing video games something I do as part of a community, or solo?

Many gamers find a balance between solo play and playing with friends either in person or online.  Some of the more effective college essays about video games discuss the game as engaging with a broader community.  This was particularly true during peak COVID shutdowns.

Colleges are looking for students to join their social as well as academic community.  Showcasing your community values, leadership, or organizational skills through a gaming community could make your essay more effective.

  1. Do I have an unusually high level of achievement in gaming?

Colleges, especially highly selective ones, love to see students who have achieved success at high levels.  This could look like debating in a national competition, winning a prestigious writing competition, or even being internationally ranked in a video game.  The higher the impact and level of achievement, the more it pushes the admission office’s ratings of your file.

If you do have an unusually high level of achievement, spell it out for the admission officer!  Students often make the mistake of assuming either that their achievement won’t be valued because it is in a video game, or that they can simply state their achievement without contextualizing it.  Realize that your admission officer may or may not be familiar with the game, so you’ll want to give them some information to work with.

This could also come in the “additional information” section of the Common App.  That’s a great place to add context to parts of your application that don’t fit as naturally in essays or your activities section.

  1. Does the school I’m applying to have an Esports program? If so, do I want to join?

If you are applying to a college with an Esports program, you already know the school and admission office places some value on competitive gaming.  If you are interested in joining and writing a school-specific supplemental essay, you might even mention your intent to join in your essay.  Beyond the essay, you might consider reaching out to the Esports coach to learn more about the program and how you might join.

So, do I recommend writing a college essay on video games?

Video games, like most topics, are fair game in your college essay.  I think it can be tough to pull off a video game essay, though, given that there is so much nuance to games and you don’t know the level of familiarity your admission officer has.

Will your admission officer know anything about video games?  Well, the average age of admission officers on my last campus was about 29.  Most officers have some level of familiarity with video games, but you’ll want to make sure you are saying more about yourself than the game.

So, my advice is to focus on yourself, how you contribute to a community, or some extraordinary level of achievement you’ve had.  If these don’t sound relevant to you, consider using a different topic.


Regardless of the topic you choose, you’ll want to make sure your essays are part of a larger cohesive narrative in your application.  Your transcript and test scores provide the quantitative numbers the admission office needs.  But your essays, activities section, and recommendations tell a story.

Create standout essays with some of our other resources.  Start with our blogs on writing personal statements and supplemental essays.

If you really want to kick your essays into high gear, we offer an online course, the Essay Academy, where you will find hours of high-quality advice, dozens of examples of essays that worked, and key insights from top admissions offices around the US.

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