The class is in session: the high school offers a video game course


*A secondary school has become one of the first in the world to offer an Esports qualification after installing a college games arena.

Wilmington Academy in Dartford, South East England, has invested thousands of pounds in the new Esports arena after launching its Business and Technology Education (BTEC) course. The BTEC is a high school diploma accepted for admission to many universities.

He hopes to give students the skills to become professional gamers.

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A growing billion-dollar industry, Esports has opened up countless new career paths from professional gamer athletes to “shoutcasters” – broadcasters who broadcast live match commentary on Twitch and YouTube.

It is also linked to skills that are in high demand in the digital job market including data analysis and video production, as well as more conventional communication and teamwork skills.

Professional esports teams have even been created by top football clubs Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, whose players compete online in games such as FIFA, Fortnite and League of Legends.

Wilmington Academy is among the first group of schools in the UK to offer its students the opportunity to study the subject.

A secondary school has become one of the first in the world to offer an Esports qualification after installing a college games arena. (Simon Galloway, SWNS/Zenger)

During the pandemic, education provider Pearson has partnered with the British Esports Association to design a BTEC Level 3 qualification in Esports, the first of its kind in the world.

The qualification covers a wide range of knowledge and skills required to work in and around the industry, including video production, game design and launching a business, as well as game skills and analysis Esports.

The Leigh Academies Trust and other local sponsors gave the coeducational school approximately $29,000.

The money helped transform a classroom on its Common Lane site into an Esports arena complete with state-of-the-art gaming gear, equipment and its own sportswear merchandise.

Explaining the rationale for the project, director Michael Gore said: “We did a lot of research on job opportunities and career opportunities and found a bit of a niche in the market where Esports was the one of the most profitable careers for students when they left school.

“Overall it’s a huge market and we wanted to make sure our students had the skills and could manage those skills effectively and have apprenticeships.”

A secondary school has become one of the first in the world to offer an Esports qualification after installing a college games arena. (Simon Galloway, SWNS/Zenger)

The first cohort of students over the age of 16 began the course in September, but there are already plans to expand the current enrollment size from 12 to 30 over the next academic year to meet demand.

Gore added: “The adoption and interest has been quite prolific, I would say.

“The indicative numbers to go into a post-16 Esports topic have really increased and so we have invested in that future and we believe our numbers will increase year on year.”

In response to any parents who may be wondering if their child is playing video games instead of learning, he said, “There’s an awful lot of teamwork that’s actually done digitally.

“They play with teams all over the world, communicate with them, improve their electronic skills.”

Gore previously said the game was “a pretty isolated situation” where people played alone, but that’s no longer the case.

He said: “Esports is a vast network of opportunities and communication in the future.”

The new Esports arena and qualification builds on the work the school has already done, which has teams competing across the UK, including one of the first all-female, non-binary teams.

The hands-on lessons focus on popular games Overwatch, Rocket League and League of Legends – a team-based strategy game where two teams of five compete to destroy each other’s base.

Esports teacher James Marriott says the games are very different from those he played as a teenager.

And he believes that the transferable business skills of data analysis and problem solving developed in the course will give students a competitive edge in the job market or in graduate studies at college or university.

He said: “I think it was an opportunity that we kind of stumbled upon. It was something I wanted to do.

“I hadn’t realized there weren’t so many in Kent who didn’t, especially in secondary schools.

“We run it as BTEC and run the Esports teams, ahead of the curve, I think we got a bit lucky, so I’m happy with that.”

A secondary school has become one of the first in the world to offer an Esports qualification after installing a college games arena. (Simon Galloway, SWNS/Zenger)

He also said it was a learning experience for himself as an educator in the creative media department, as he said it changed the dynamics of the classroom and made learning a more enjoyable experience. collaborative for all.

Marriot added: “It works really well and it’s just amazing to watch.

“It’s great, I think that will be the way to go and other schools will come, and as part of the Leigh Academy Trust, if we can be the leader in this area, that’s great for we.”

The professional game continues to go from strength to strength with international competitions offering huge prizes.

It is hoped Wilmington alumni will return once they complete the program to pass on the baton and “inspire the next generation of Esports and digital learners”.

Ex-student Amber Gleed, who leads one of the school’s co-ed teams, is among those sharing her skills and knowledge.

The 18-year-old explained: “Communication would be the most important thing. In a game with six other people you’re on a team with, you just have to talk to them.

“As the head captain and coach of the Overwatch team, that was the thing I had to get everyone working on.

“I’m still digging into them, but it’s like now we’ve started to do that and we’re communicating it more, obviously it shows a lot more.

“I feel like I know how to communicate properly in a team of only five to six other people, that’s a useful thing.”

It’s also something the ex-student says will help her and her former classmates in the near future.

She added: “You have to have the confidence to say the right things at the right time.

“Having clear communication now, working on it and developing it just helps that later.”

It’s not just about competing. Other students hoping to enroll in the brand new Esports BTEC are eyeing other careers in the industry.

Poppie Foard, 16, said: “You could have a career in streaming just by playing games with other people who watch and make money that way.”

When asked what her favorite aspect was, she replied, “It’s really great to work in a team. We all started talking to each other more.

His classmate and teammate Aaron Watkins has also taken an interest in the technical and business side of the sport and the 15-year-old can see himself hosting events in the future.

With League of Legends championship competitions attracting larger online audiences than the US Superbowl, hosting can be a lucrative job.

When asked what differentiates esports from traditional gaming, Aaron replied, “It’s basically the feeling of doing something other than for yourself.

“There’s a reason you actually play. It makes me want to practice more and more. »

Produced in collaboration with SWNS.

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