E-Sports are here to stay and need a space in school
Jenny Mollon looks at the rise of E-Sports and how exciting new spaces might be designed to accommodate these increasingly popular activities in schools.
Like many parents, I spend a significant portion of each day extracting PlayStation controllers from my children’s hands, setting countdown timers until ‘screen off’ time and listening to them converse with friends online in a language that is totally alien to me. (Who is ‘Echo’ and why is he so cool? What is a ‘Support’? Why is the Ender Dragon such a big deal? How has FIFA turned my 8-year old into a walking compendium of football knowledge? I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to answer these questions!)
With this ever-present battle of wills in mind, the concept of schools offering E-Sports as ‘education’ was initially baffling to me. Why on earth would I let my kids ‘game’ at school (when I struggle to avoid it at home!), and what could ‘E-Sports’ possibly teach them? It wasn’t until I began to understand the vast potential of the E-Sports industry and the careers it is creating that I began to understand.
First off, I want to professionalise how we speak of this industry. E-sports isn’t, in fact, just my kids bickering over who plays Overwatch next, it is the serious business of professional competitive gaming.
The growing world of professional gaming
Like their counterparts in traditional sports, E-Sports professionals are playing for branded, well supported teams around the world and making a living out of doing so. In turn, they are supported by a whole host of other professionals: coaches, fitness trainers, psychologists; PR/Marketing executives; business managers; skilled production crews; shoutcasters and podcast hosts; journalists, content creators, product managers, referees, social media managers, event managers and more.
The burgeoning financial potential of the global E-Sports industry was made clear in a recent report issued by market intelligence portal GWI. The report states that global esports revenues are predicted to reach $1.8bn in 2023 and total E-Sports viewership predicted at 646 million in the same year.
These figures are underscored by interest in E-Sports at national level in many countries. Last year, England’s second city, Birmingham, played host to the Commonwealth Games, and the event was mirrored by a very successful E-Sports Commonwealth Games. President Macron of France has even hinted that we may see an E-Sports Olympics running alongside the Paris Olympics of 2024. In short: watch this space!
E-Sports in educational settings
For schools, E-Sports offer more than just a pathway into those ‘careers of the future’ we hear about so often. E-Sports offer a platform for more than just traditionally ‘sporty’ children to take pride in representing their school and, even better, they can take on the best teams right around the world to do so. The prestige of E-Sports success in education settings is perhaps best reflected in the fact the more than 175 US colleges now offer E-Sports Scholarships, much like their better-known scholarships in popular sports such as American Football and Basketball.
If, on reading all that, you are also sold on the potential of E-Sports in school . . . how to begin? Many schools have started with an extra-curricular programmes to test interest across their community (and parent body, of course!). For British Curriculum schools who want to go one step further, there’s now the potential to offer a BTEC Esports qualification. Aimed at students who want to pursue a career in the industry, the course content includes topics such as enterprise and entrepreneurship, broadcasting, branding, video production and more.
Whatever way your school decides to introduce E-Sports, getting the space and facilities just right is critical. At Kidzink, we’ve been studying E-Sports spaces around the world for some time, ensuring that any Kidzink E-Sports Zone is world class (and beautiful, too!).
Multi-purpose E-Sports spaces
E-Sports Spaces can be mind-blowing: some are 100+-seater, multi-event venues and content studios with resources for live broadcasting, commentary (shoutcasting) and social media content creation. Of course, some are more modest, but these can be equally impactful. Whether a budget blow out or more low-key space, there are some common features that we believe all school-based E-Sports hubs should include.
At Kidzink, our expert architects and designers list the most important of these as:
- Theatrical elements – a stage for players and a spectator area (with seating)
- Quiet discussion and collaboration zones
- Dimmable lighting, black-out windows and comfortable seating
- Broadcasting rooms/spaces
- Lounge areas where teams and viewers can relax and connect (with screens to view the action!)
Looking at this list, I know that educators from all subject areas will see the potential in including these facilities on campus. When well-designed, E-Sports spaces are a multi-purpose, interdisciplinary investment with many practical uses right across the curriculum and different phases of a school. The key lies in the design, the aesthetic and the careful selection of furniture and resources. At Kidzink, we believe we have the expertise to make the very best educational E-Sports spaces possible.
Jenny Mollon is Director of Education at Kidzink, www.kidzinkdesign.com
Kidzink is a ‘one stop shop’ for school design, offering a broad service which includes architecture, design, space planning and school furniture manufacturing. Over the past year, the Kidzink team have seen an uptake in enquiries from schools looking to include E-Sports in both their curriculum and extra-curricular offerings.
To find out more about the KidzInc approach to the design of educational spaces capabale of hosting E-Sports, contact Jenny on firstname.lastname@example.org
All images with kind permission from Kidzink
FEATURE IMAGE: E-sports hub – lounge area where teams and viewers can relax and connect.