Wednesday 7 July 2021

Esports Elective

Roedean has had a long involvement in esports. From hosting many National Team Trials to hosting top international players such as Robert 'PandaTank' Botha (3rd from the left) and Silviu 'NightEnd Lazar of Romania (5th from the left) back in 2013.

by Dorian Love.
Team sports have long been seen as central to education. Thomas Arnold, headmaster of Rugby School between 1828 and 1841 saw the character-building qualities of team sports as crucial to socialization and the ethic of muscular Christianity. Learning to work together, learning to temper your individual instincts for the good of the team. Learning to build your identity as a member of a wider community was vital in the education of those intended to be able to go out into the far reaches of the British Empire and administer vast tracts of land and huge populations in the interests of colonial power.

These values are now held to be odious, but team sports retain the power to build character.  The world depends now more than ever on building co-operation and the ability to collaborate in the face of adversity. If we do not work together, we will not combat pandemics or climate change, if we do not have a sense of collective identity we will fail because of individual greed.

Esports is now perhaps the fastest growing sport in the world and needs to be brought into the centre-ground of education. Too often computer gaming has been seen as a solitary, lonely activity conducted in darkened teenage bedrooms. While gaming generally has been brought into the mainstream and is no longer the preserve of a sub-culture, much of the stigma that has surrounded gaming remains in the popular imagination. Computer gaming is highly social, and according to research greatly beneficial within moderation. Every bit as much as the traditional team sports such as rugby or cricket, eSports offers opportunities for character-building. Although an increasing number of schools are introducing eSports as an optional sport, relatively few encourage it. Very few see the opportunities in using eSports to teach character and build capacity. Most schools either do not offer eSports or strangle it by not placing it on the list of compulsory sports.

Next year, in 2022, Roedean School will be introducing Esports as an elective subject in the Grade 8 and 9 syllabus alongside electives in traditional subjects such as history, drama or science. Currently Esports in the curriculum is largely taken to mean the use of gaming, particularly Minecraft to deliver content within STEAM curricula. This is important and has been shown to be efficacious, but the Roedean curriculum seeks to address competitive Esports directly. Much as one might play hockey during Phys Ed lessons, the aim is to give girls an opportunity to hone their gaming skills and learn to play as part of a competitive eSports team. The elective will also include topics such as team management, health, how to enter a tournament and a look inside possible future careers such as sports journalism. Students will be made aware of the tertiary bursaries available, and the range of possibilities students can pursue.

Turning your passion into a career is an outcome, to quote Hamlet, devoutly to be wished. Roedean School hopes to turn this maxim into an educational stream tailored for those girls who are passionate about gaming and who wish to develop this as their sport of choice.
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