We keep on promoting the message to the traditionalists across the betting and gaming industry that those who continue to ignore esports, or pay it inadequate lip service, are the ones who are missing out, and now we see this truly generational genre entering the corridors of the education system.
In the UK, esteemed establishments such as Nottingham Trent University, Loughborough College and Mid-Kent College have embraced the life skill disciplines inherent within esports and welcomed their integration into the realm of education.
One of the fastest growing industries in the world
Esports is competitive gaming, with games played at live spectator events and broadcast to a worldwide audience of streamers. Most esports titles are team-based, usually 3-v-3 or 5-v-5, and the most commonly used gaming platform for esports is the PC. There are currently somewhere around 30 game titles, across several genres, which are officially recognised as competitive esports titles. The four main genres are MOBAs (Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas), FPS (First Person Shooters), Fighting Games and Sports-based. The dominant games are League of Legends, Dota 2 (MOBA), Overwatch, Call of Duty, Fortnite (FPS), Street Fighter, Smash Bros (Fighting) and FIFA, Rocket League (Sports).
In terms of reach, the esports community consists of over 800 million people worldwide. This includes both active players and enthusiasts, and tens of millions who watch broadcast events on streaming channels such as Twitch TV. As it becomes increasingly mainstream, this burgeoning esports industry is predicted to reach revenues of $1.5bn by 2023.
Why esports and education is a good mix
A vast array of career pathways is now becoming available across the esports industry. The first misconception to lose is that this is just about ‘playing games.’ The wider world of esports – as is the case with all sports – offers numerous roles and opportunities beyond just being a player or coach. This is a business Now, and like any business the cross-section of roles and functions is immense, with educators believing that esports teaches both essential and transferable skills.
These include leadership skills and teamwork, social and communication skills, problem solving and decision making, cyber and digital skills, perceptual and cognitive skills, reaction times, dexterity, concentration and resilience. Each of these skills is vital to learn as we go through life and by integrating esports into education, institutions provide an exciting and unique way for students to learn these skills.
BTEC qualifications in esports and their value to learners:
The UK’s first formal esports qualification was the BTEC National Diploma at both Level 2 and Level 3, developed in 2019 by British Esports and the global education provider, Pearson. Three years later, there are almost 2,000 students studying these courses, in 70 centres across the country. A further 160 centres have been approved to run the course in future years.
The BTEC qualifications are very skills-focused and provide a unique insight into the esports industry, with the aim of supporting long-term careers. Across 20 modules, students learn about player health and welfare, event hosting and broadcasting, brand formation and commercial development. By establishing such a broad approach, the qualification bridges the gap between esports and education.
The Confetti Institute of Creative Technologies
Nottingham Trent University has announced plans for a new London-based campus, opening in Whitechapel in September 2023. Confetti will be dedicated to delivering pioneering creative education and will focus on esports, content creation as well as physical and virtual production.
With esports becoming an increasingly prominent sector within the wider betting and gaming industry, this active involvement of the education sector shows great foresight and widens broadens the scope for talent development. Without such courses and qualifications, esports might remain as a very niche space, difficult to get into, with the focus remaining on simply playing the games, rather than proactively evolving a potentially dominant industry. But not anymore, because if this was previously perceived as being a problem, then now there is a very real solution.