22nd June 2020

Steve Caunter, Assistant Principal – Hi Tech & Digital at South Devon College, provides an insight into esports, his thoughts on the progression of the booming gaming industry and the skilled careers it brings.

As a veteran of the Mario and Sonic era of gaming, an age where all I had to contend with was an A and B button with a left and right arrow, I find the challenge of multi-functional buttons on a modern controller a frustration – but perhaps it’s just my age!

Many of our young people, sometimes referred to as the C Generation, have grown up in an age where it is quite natural to flip between various digital platforms with the ability to process information at speed and effortlessly get to grips with a ‘NASA’ style control panel within minutes.

Of course, managing access to electronic devices and providing a balanced social and educational development is important. In my house the rules are simple ‘work hard, play hard’… with downtime and family time. So, the Wi-Fi switches off at midnight (even for me), homework comes first, gaming time is restricted, no mobile devices are allowed in bedrooms after 10pm and inclusive family activities such as film nights are of priority.

However, my teenage C Generation son tries to push these boundaries, probably like any boy from any generation! Lockdown and social distancing have brought their own unique set of challenges. However, this has given me time to observe and reflect on his habits and try to further understand the draw of electronic games (whilst developing my skills on FIFA). This social isolation research has reinforced and highlighted what ‘e’ games can offer my son:

–     the opportunity to develop his coding skills

–     development of his creative thinking mind

–     development of his conceptual thinking mind

–     collaborative and conversing social interaction with his friendship group

–     the opportunity for competition (unfortunately not with me on FIFA!)

‘e’ games or esports that all those parents with teenage children are probably familiar with, such as Fortnite, FIFA football and Minecraft, do offer development of these ‘c’ skills to young people.

Which brings me to the point; the Hi Tech and Digital Department at South Devon College, reacting to emerging trends and demand, is working towards the launch of an esports suite of courses with pathways for young people and adults.

What is exciting about this new suite of skills focused esport courses (developed by Edexcel as a widely recognised and highly valued BTEC qualification with equivalent levels to GCSEs – Level 2 or A Levels – Level 3) is that they are not just about ‘playing’ games. These courses, at Level 2 and 3, encourage those that have a passion for gaming to develop their skills and knowledge, understanding the rapidly growing, intricate and successful industry that is esports and taking on board that it is an emerging credible option for careers. Esports is now a massive industry:

“Global esports revenues will grow to $1.1billion in 2020, a year-on-year growth of +15.7%, up from $950.6 million in 2019’ and ‘globally, the total esports audience will grow to 495.0 million people in 2020, a year-on-year growth of 11.7%”

Newzoo Global Esports Market Research, 2020

Additionally, as part of this development and considering my social isolation research, the College intends to run the usual student induction sessions alongside a series of parent and adult information sessions, with the intention of highlighting what esports can offer as a route to employment or self-employment for the entrepreneur.

“These qualifications are a unique development that can elevate esports education in the UK and around the world” – BTEC Website, 2020, ultimately developing a global community for education.

The course will include options to cover topics such as (dependent on level):

  • esports skills; strategy and analysis
  • Games design
  • Producing an esports brand
  • Live-streamed broadcasting and video production
  • Computer networking
  • Enterprise and entrepreneurship
  • Shoutcasting (i.e. creating a video commentary over an esports game)
  • esport events management
  • Health and wellbeing for esports players
  • esports law and legislation

So; a call to all the C generation and parents/guardians – click here for more information!

If you are interested in more information or have any questions contact Charlotte Bounsall at charlottebounsall@southdevon.ac.uk

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