"You got a D in Counter-Strike?! That's it! Go to your room, you are grounded, and you are not doing anything else this weekend except for playing video games!". It does seem odd, but this is the kind of conversation that could happen between a parent and their child who has taken the eSports course at the Lanxiang Technical School in China.
The annual tuition fees at the school are around 13,000 yuan ($2,708) and students can now sign up for a three-year eSports course. In the first year of the course half the student's time is dedicated to mastering games such as Overwatch, Counter-Strike, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, and League of Legends. The other half of their time is for learning theory to succeed in the eSports industry.
After the first year, the classes are split up; the best players centre their efforts on becoming professional gamers, while everyone else works on becoming event organizers, coaches, eSport presenters, and promoters. If you are good enough to get onto one of the school's competitive teams, you don't have to pay tuition fees.
In 2016 UC Irvine launched a scholarship program for students to play League of Legends competitively, however they weren't offering an actual course where playing is on the curriculum. This is what the Chinese school is offering. But, it isn't alone, as universities and academies in Russia, Finland, and France are also offering similar eSport courses. Stafford University in Britain is expected to launch its own three-year eSports degree in September 2018.
The reasoning behind all of this is that eSports are already massively popular. According to Newzoo, a market research firm, the eSport industry will generate $905 million of revenue globally in 2018. In China alone there are reportedly 260 million people either playing or watching eSport competitions annually.
Over 40,000 people attended the League of Legends World Championship in November 2017 - that event was held in Beijing's Bird Nest stadium which was built for the 2008 Olympics. So, there are those already making the argument that eSports should be included in the Olympics. The powers that be have a number of problems with that. A big issue for them is that the popular eSport games centre around violence and killing, something that they don't want to condone for the global event. However this doesn't seem to be an issue for the Asian Games. At the 2022 Asian Games eSports will be included as a sport you could actually win a medal for.
Whether it has the merit to be included at the Olympics or not. If one considers the revenues and quantities of people involved, combined with the fact that places like the Lanxiang Technical School are receiving students for eSport courses, it seems that video gaming is an integral feature of modern economy as well as culture.
Source: The Straits Times |Images from AFP via The Straits Times
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