You may or may not have heard of esports, but one thing you should know; esports is currently one of the fastest growing industries worldwide. Boasting a massive global audience of 385 million, which is expected to rise to 589 million by 2020, esports is booming. Making up 61% of the total esports audience, 13-24 year-olds – or generation Z and millennials – are the drivers behind this industry’s growth.
Esports is essentially competitive gaming. Highly skilled and professional gamers compete at well-organised events and tournaments that sell out stadiums and arenas around the world. These tournaments are then watched by millions of fans around the world through live streaming platforms. To put it into context, the most-watched esports event, The Intel Extreme Masters World Championship, was watched by more than 46 million online viewers this year. In comparison, Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration was watched by only 30.6 million.
There is much more to esports than a team of professional gamers competing against each other for eye-watering cash prizes and legions of adoring fans. As with any industry, there is a need for young professionals who have an understanding of the complexity and diversity of esports to work behind the scenes and keep the industry ticking. There are esports organisations, teams and publishers out there that are crying out for the next generation of journalists, solicitors, developers, analysts, marketers… the list goes on.
In response to the current skills shortage and sheer demand for an education in esports by the younger generations, we are beginning to see some of the country’s top universities and schools supporting and engaging with students who are keen to pursue a career in esports. In a UK first, Staffordshire University recently announced it will be offering an Esports BA (Hons) degree commencing September 2018 in its brand new, state-of-the-art £8.7M Computing and Gaming facility. The University of York has also partnered with ESL, one of the UK’s well-known esports organisation in a ‘world-first esports collaboration’, enabling students to pioneer and test new teaching methods and initiatives in a dedicated esports research facility.
There is also an increasing focus on esports in schools with The British Esports Association piloting the UK’s first esports after school club in various schools across London. The scheme, which is supported by Westminster City Council, is already being labelled a success and plans are in motion to expand the scheme to more and more schools across the country.
The most-watched esports event, The Intel Extreme Masters World Championship, was watched by more than 46 million online viewers this year. In comparison, Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration was watched by only 30.6 million.
There is, of course, good reason esports is receiving recognition and support from UK educational institutions: esports promotes key values and soft skills which are fundamental components to any student’s education. Below are just some of the ways esports can develop essential soft skills in schools and universities:
These are two of the core foundations that esports is built on. Effective teamwork and communication are essential skills all esports players must possess. Constant communication and delegation is required and can ultimately be the difference between winning and losing. These ideas are fundamental soft skills which work in harmony in order to achieve both academically and on the esports stage.
Contrary to popular belief, the top esports stars are amongst the most dedicated and hard-working competitors out there. They must follow strict, gruelling physical training regimes and dedicate hour after hour on perfecting the most minor aspects of their game. The top players also abide by special nutritional and dietary needs, all in order to enhance their gameplay and maximise their growth and ability. This strong and motivated work ethic instilled into students can unequivocally increase productivity and capabilities tenfold.
With esports come many high-pressure situations and scenarios in the shape of competitive tournaments and matches. An esports player must know how to correctly manage and respond to pressure to stand any chance of success: this is something that can unquestionably be applied to a student’s learning to assist with the stress and pressures that come with exams and striving to achieve their desired grades.
Achieving and excelling at competitive gaming in a learning environment can do wonders for students who love gaming but may not show any particular interest in traditional curriculum sports and activities. By offering esports as an alternative, students are given the choice of taking up something they truly enjoy which helps improve self-confidence in their own abilities. This new found self-confidence and happier personality can be efficiently applied to a student’s learning in other subjects or studies.
Esports is not just a passing trend or craze that will eventually die out with time. It is only a matter of time before esports is in fact recognised as an Olympic sport (the idea is already being discussed as a potential medal event at the Paris 2024 Olympics). Our future generations are taking esports seriously, therefore schools and universities should continue offering the support and opportunities which can instil immensely valuable skills and ethics by utilising and capitalising on esports in the educational environment.
For a more in-depth insight into the esports audience, download Fast Web Media’s ebook Field of View for free here.