The young and burgeoning esports industry has come a long way, with many new milestones reached only in recent years.
Big international events taking place that are tailored around games like League of Legends, Dota 2, and Counter Strike: GO, higher than ever viewership and popularity numbers, and large established companies becoming involved in the rapidly growing industry are only a few breakthroughs the eSports community has seen lately.
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Now, a new area is showing interest in getting involved in the competitive gaming industry: education. Garnes High School, a high school in Norway, created a program offering three-year courses in Counter Strike:GO and League of Legends after seeing how much time and effort youngsters are putting into the eSports industry.
Could be the start of a new breed of pro eSports athletes
“We believe this [eSports] deserves to be taken more seriously, and want to offer our pupils the possibility of combining an eSports training program with formal schooling qualifications,” says Petter Grahl Johnstad, the school’s science department manager.
The program is planned to start in August and will accept roughly 30 students. The training will be focused on League of Legends and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, currently two of the most successful games in the competitive gaming environment.
The three-year course will require students to do five hours of study per week as part of their 30-hour overall course duration. It will include working closely with coaches that have in-depth knowledge of the games, focusing on areas such as mechanics, strategy, tactics, teamwork, and theories about the motivations of professional players and how teams work.
Additionally, students will get Skype lessons from professional players, and will attend eSports events to see professionals at work. Creating a team and participating in local tournaments will be a part of the curriculum.
eSports training involves physical component
In addition to the regular physical education class, the program involves training and exercises that should improve the students’ reaction time, reflexes, and general body strength.
“The pupils will learn that a focus on athletic abilities serves as a foundation for eSports success,” says Johnstad. “You cannot succeed at a high level in eSports without being in good physical shape. Nutrition is another important focus area in this regard.”
In a special game room made available during the day and evening, and decked out with high-powered computers, G-Sync monitors, and Akracing chairs, students will be working on their game performance as part of their “homework.”
Similar as the school’s football and handball classes, the eSports courses will follow the same procedures where students will have to take exams and will receive grades. This will include evaluating their communication, technical abilities, and a theoretical understanding of lifestyle elements like nutrition.
“We believe that there are a number of abilities obtained or improved by eSports,” says Johnstad. “Including the ability to cooperate, the ability to communicate, mastery of tactics, and mastery of strategy—that are readily transferred to other activities. We also hope that the enthusiasm generated by our eSports classes will serve to give youth a more positive attitude toward education in general.”
U.S. colleges offering scholarships for eSports athletes
Robert Morris University in Chicago and the University of Pikeville in Kentucky already have their own eSports programs. RMU announced its eSports program back in June 2014 and has recently opened the first varsity eSports facility in North America. Pikeville is planning to launch its program with the fall 2015 semester.
This all is exciting news as the industry of competitive gaming keeps entering new areas and expanding its presence across the globe.