Study reveals that esports empower young people

The study from Staffordshire University polled over 2,000 students, and found that participation in esports can also boost career aspirations

A study into the educational impact of esports was launched recently at the annual general meeting of Ukie, the trade body for the UK games and interactive entertainment industry.

The study, conducted by Staffordshire University, examined data to determine the effect of participation in the Digital Schoolhouse Esports Tournament 2018. Over 2000 students aged 12–18 participated in various roles, including event management, production, tournament administration, community management, on-screen talent and players. The skills that these roles helped to develop were recognised by the Duke of York’s Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award (iDEA).

Key Findings of the study included an increase in transferable skills, with communication (74%) and team working (80%) coming top. Positive effects of bonds of friendship amongst participants were also reported, with 67% of respondents stating that friendship bonds grew over the course of the tournament (and 94% of friendships were maintained or grew during the competition). Qualitative evidence from teachers and schools involved in the tournament further reinforced these findings, particularly regarding the effects on behaviour and engagement amongst harder to reach students. Meanwhile, almost 90% of students said that the tournament had increased their interest in a career in the video games industry and that it had increased their interest in computers and computing.

The results show that taking part not only improved skills and confidence but sparked their interest in subjects, job roles and opportunities they might not have thought were possible before.

The objective of Digital Schoolhouse’s tournament was to use esports as a vehicle to provide students with an immersive careers education experience and help them realise the breadth of career opportunities available to them.

E-sports offers a great opportunity to take a popular pastime and turn it into an enriching learning opportunity. – Shahneila Saeed, Ukie / Digital Schoolhouse 

Staffordshire University’s study collected data from participating students and schools and focused on two key research questions: Whether participating in esports created a positive behavioural change in young players that translated into behaviour modification in other aspects of their lives, and whether participating in esports influenced the career paths and STEM interests of young players.

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Shahneila Saeed, Head of Education at Ukie and Director of Digital Schoolhouse, said: “The continued growth of technology and the digital industry means that computer science skills will not just play an integral role in the jobs of the future, but are also an essential element of the work that we do today. While the introduction of the computing curriculum has been the right way forward to help us upskill the next generations, in current real terms its effect has so far been minimal. This means we’re facing a skills gap in one of the fastest growing industries in the world.”

“E-sports offers a great opportunity to take a popular pastime and turn it into an enriching learning opportunity. The tournament’s impact on the numbers of students interested in computing has been fantastic. A real eye-opener has been the increase in other areas too; improved confidence and self-esteem, better team working and communication and strategic thinking skills too. Additionally, the transformative effects we’ve seen on participating schools has been phenomenal. All this combined with that magical fun factor make this one of the most effective and meaningful learning experiences we can find today.”

Mark Ward at St John Fisher Catholic Voluntary Academy said: “Getting involved in the tournament has been amazing. I can bring the pupils’ world into my lessons – I can use role models that they have heard of (some I hadn’t until very recently!) and talk about careers that they are interested in and passionate about, all whilst ‘playing games’. The most amazing thing: this is a world that is open to everybody.”

Digital Schoolhouse’s esports tournament takes place in three stages, with school heats beginning in October each year followed by regional qualifiers and the grand final, which takes place in April.

For more information about the next e-sports Tournament, visit www.digitalschoolhouse.org.uk

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