A few years ago, mentioning that children could play any computer game in school would have been met with rabid indignance by many. Sensationalist newspapers would trot out the same tired headlines about young children being “corrupted” by games at a young age.
Thankfully, over the years the attitude toward games and now esports has softened considerably. We are now at an interesting point in the development of esports and technology in education writ large.
What’s the news?
The recent news that 14 high schools in North Dakota have teamed up to create their own esports league is just the latest in a number of initiatives around the world that have seen esports adopted by schools.
While it is tempting to think these schools and universities are generally attempting to piggyback on the popularity of esports within the age range of the children and young adults that they teach, in fact, there is a great deal more to this situation than simply keeping children entertained.
In truth, you can argue esports need support from schools equally as much as schools need to tap into the popularity of esports.
Data emphasizes the importance of esports
A recent report on the esports industry from HitmarkerJobs.com has revealed a startling fact. Globally, the number of jobs within the esports industry has increased by an incredible 185.7% in the first six months of 2019 compared to the same six-month period in 2018.
Indeed, fully paid jobs now make up 86.65% of the total jobs shown, an increase of 10.21% from 2018. The United States saw a rise from 1,147 esports jobs in 2018 to 2,586 in June 2019. That said, a significant proportion of these positions (around 61.1%) are based in the state of California.
What is also interesting is that the age bracket of those appointed into roles is predominantly from 18-34 years of age, with 25-34-year-olds being the most represented demographic.
The esports industry clearly offers young people new and exciting career paths. The British Esports Association, for one, is all over this idea. The organization offers students of all ages advice on all aspects of esports, including careers advice.
We already know that many colleges and universities in the United States, South Korea, Australia, China, and the United Kingdom are starting to run their own esports programs. While the focus is on the inter-collegiate competitiveness of these scholarships and programs, broader career attention is coming.
Preparing the youth of today for the future
Given that the esports industry is in rude health, it is incumbent upon schools, colleges, and universities to ensure their students are taught the skills and knowledge that they need to thrive in the modern society. Learning Latin may be a useful skill for some, but there is equal validity for a young streamer who wants to develop their own career within esports.
As such, the further integration of esports into schools should never be viewed as detrimental to curriculum. Instead, it is enhancing the opportunities for children to learn and engage in a different way. In doing so, they nurture the next generation of esports players, fans and employees. They’ll take this industry on to a bigger and brighter future.