Recently, a Norwegian school announced plans to add eSports class in replacement of a physical education class. An eSports class allows for all students who take this class to be on an equal skill level no matter physical abilities, in particular for students who may be physically disabled. The eSports class plan is to have 15 gaming pcs which a class of about 30 students; this way students are playing online or they are doing physical exercises to improve eSports skills. An essential part of a physical education class is teamwork and communication, which through the years of eSports has proven to be the greatest skill needed to be a successful eSports team as you need to communicate with teammates on strategy and problem solving so you and your teammates can achieve your goals as a team. Many of titles of the class include League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and DOTA 2; all online video games which require constant communication to be successful. The pilot class will not begin until the 2016/2017 academic year at Garnes high school in Norway.
eSports are competitive video game tournaments and are often broadcast live on the internet and with a live audience. These video games, like League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global-Offensive, and DOTA 2 are usually team based and require teams of five players. The larger tournaments held have sponsored such as Razer, Mad Catz, BENQ and other technology or beverage companies. For major league teams, these tournaments can be a great source of income from the prize money; the International League of Legends tournament in 2015 had a prize pool of $2,130,000 USD with first prize winning $1,000,000 USD.
With the potential introduction of this class into mainstream school, eSports may quickly become a modern class. With the primary focus being secondary schools, it seems appropriate that the games selected for the course are intended for a more mature audience, but what about games that are for players age 18 and older? Games such as Counter Strike: Global Offensive are rated ages 18+ on both the PEGI and ESRB rating board, and most students in a high school setting are anywhere between 14 & 18 years of age. As the class will be a pilot this 2016/2017 academic year, there has yet to be any information on if there is a given age limit or prerequisite to the class.
With the ratings of games, which are enforced so players, and more importantly, parents know what the game contains with just a look at a label. It will be vital to the class on how they will work with these ratings. One possible solution is that the class only select games in which the PEGI and ESRB rating are appropriate, that way students are playing the appropriate games suited to their age bracket. Most games with a mature rating tend to be graphically violent with blood and gore, use of profane language, sexual and or drug use. Most of the games listed for the pilot eSports class, which is to be introduced in Garnes high school in Norway, are rated Teen for players age 13 and older except Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
As an eSports class, I raise the question on if the students will be playing in a closed network, or if they will be playing against other users online? The pros to playing online would be very beneficial to the team building of the class once they have progressed through the course and have a good understanding of team communication and working together as a team. If the students remained within a closed network, it might become too repetitive to play against students in their class, which could plateau the students learning if a challenge is not presented. Playing against other players online would make them more adaptive when playing as a team. Occasionally, teams may have a joker in the pack which can cause trouble for their team, or be unpredictable for the other team. It would also be possible for students of the class to come across a team online, who may have developed more advanced strategies when it comes to these games; giving students a workout.
Possible issues that could arise for students in an online environment is cross-team communication. ESport games that are incredibly competitive often lead to intimidation or confrontation if a team or player don’t like another player. This confrontation can be either through text, actions in the game such as focusing on a particular character or out of game contact via game messaging systems or social media.
The presence of video games in the classroom has grown since I was in young, making my way to the computer lab to play Reader Rabbit for class. With games such as Minecraft being used in the classroom and displayed at ICTEDU and showing how it effectively promotes creativity with students. This technology could take a giant leap forward in the near future, depending on the success of the eSports pilot class in Garnes high school in Norway this upcoming academic year.
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Written By Cole Campbell, Creative Multimedia student at Limerick Institute of Technology Clonmel, along with his team Bilal Waraich and Ciara Doyle.