If I had told my parents that I wanted to study competitive gaming in college, I can only imagine the explosive reaction I would have felt. Fortunately, public opinion on gambling has changed considerably since I left school in 2010, and an interesting twist of fate meant that my younger brother actually experienced this hypothetical scenario late last year. when he announced he was going to study esports. To my surprise, I was the only family member to object to the idea.
For those not in the know, esports is short for “electronic sports” which refers to competitive video games. I harbored the same reservations that I assumed my parents would have – that the chances of a career as a “professional player” were slim and that pursuing such a dream was too risky. I tentatively suggested safer (albeit more boring) course options that I thought would offer more useful job skills, but I was quickly rejected not only by the rest of my siblings, but also by my two parents.
It turns out they’re not alone. a united kingdom Dell Technologies study found that 48% of parents think esports should be added to the school/college curriculum, while 69% think esports could help their child develop skills they might not learn through learning methods. traditional education.
In fact, it’s not just parents who have a positive view of esports in education, as alongside the 1,500 parents interviewed in the study, 500 other financial decision makers such as school leaders and department heads, also expressed a positive view on the subject, with a whopping 79% believing it should be taught in schools.
Not just for rich kids
The same data also confirms a few suspicions I had though, with only 32% of the same parents expressing that they would be happy for their child to pursue a career in esports, and 67% admitting that their own lack of education on the subject makes it difficult to discuss. Given the seemingly explosive rise in popularity over the past decade, this is an understandable concern and one I myself had fallen into despite the industry’s active monitoring and support. sports.
One trap I fell into was thinking that these kids would literally sit in front of an expensive gaming system for 8 hours a day learning in-game skills for League of Legends, Dota 2, and other popular competitive titles. In fact, the courses created by the British Esports Association are well balanced, teaching essential skills that are easily applicable outside of a gaming environment, such as social media marketing, broadcasting, business planning and game production. ‘events.
Being introduced to these skills can connect to a wide variety of careers, so even if the student chooses not to pursue esports after graduation, they have the means to enter the world of community management, game publishing and marketing, to name a few. . In fact, that same brother who expressed an interest in the esports course has since left to pursue journalism and broadcasting after falling in love with shoutcasting (a style of livestreamed commentary born out of esports).
One of the biggest concerns I had aside from the usefulness of these long-term courses was also about their diversity. After all, consoles, gaming computers and laptops are incredibly expensive, and not every family has the luxury of providing this kind of hardware, which could effectively prevent low-income families or the healthcare system to apply first.
I had the chance to discuss these concerns with Camilla Maurice, who runs an esports course at Mid Kent College. She said that not only do 70% of parents believe esports promotes inclusivity, but also that the hardware needed to join the class is much more affordable than I originally assumed, since most of the expensive technology required for games and streaming are often fabricated. available on campus. She claimed that “kids really only need access to a laptop or tablet to take lessons, so the hardware they need at home isn’t too different than required by any other course”.
Kill them with kindness (virtually speaking)
Finances aside, that wasn’t the only inclusion issue that worried me. While gender discrimination is rare in professional games, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a player who hasn’t experienced toxic behavior because of her gender in online gaming lobbies. I myself don’t play any competitive titles anymore because of this, so I was relieved to learn that this is something that is covered in the courses currently in progress.
Gary Tibbet, Head of Education for the British Esports Association, informed me that toxic behavior is addressed in the curriculum, stating that “we have a zero tolerance policy on toxic behavior of any kind. Attacking someone based on their gender or in-game skill is not allowed. We see a much more inclusive environment within colleges these days as people begin to understand that their classmates are there because they share a common interest and passion.”
It seems that alongside skills that will be genuinely useful outside of the game, people who take these courses also learn how to have a healthy relationship with online spaces and competitive environments. Regardless of your feelings about kids aspiring to be “pro gamers,” nipping troll and toxic behavior in the bud is a positive step forward.
It is likely that the global lockdowns linked to Covid-19 have also helped foster some positive attitudes towards hobbies like gaming. With families stuck at home, parents have had a great opportunity to learn more about esports and games from their children, reducing the stigma associated with them. After all, outside of video calling platforms like Zoom, online games gave kids the chance to interact with their friends during a time when no one could leave the house.
The last few months have certainly opened my eyes to a school prejudice that I didn’t know existed. Hypocritically, my own degree majored in prosthetic makeup and wig making, which is a far cry from writing about computing and gaming, but you’d be surprised how much the skills of the two can overlap .
Yes, every graduate of these courses is statistically unlikely to become a famous esports athlete, but they could be production managers, journalists and more, all while having a healthier relationship with the game at their age. than the previous generation. As the esports and gaming industry continues to grow, we will need a lot more of this.