Level up! UK’s first esports degree launched

Work or play? In 2017, UK teenagers aged 12-15 spent an average of 12.2 hours per week gaming.

Is it a waste of time? Students at Staffordshire University have begun studying for a controversial new degree in esports. Meanwhile, competitive gaming is becoming bigger than ever.

For the first time, students in Britain have begun studying for a degree in esports.

Based at Staffordshire University, it focuses on the business behind esports. Students will learn how to organise video game events and build online communities.

“I won’t spend three years playing games,” insists student Danielle Morgan. “If you look back 10 years ago not many people were doing a computing degree and now everyone’s got a computing degree.”

Not everyone is convinced. “Courses like computer game studies seem really attractive to young people and then they are [left] with £50,000 worth of debt and are unemployable,” claims Chris McGovern, chairman of The Campaign for Real Education.

Whether he is right remains to be seen, but what cannot be doubted is the staggering growth of esports in recent years.

International video game competitions are worth big money. Analysts think the industry as a whole will be worth £1.3 billion by 2021.

As a result, extraordinary riches await the best players. This year’s Dota 2 championship had a total prize pool of over £19 million.

Esports events have a huge following too. Over 100 million people tuned into the 2017 League of Legends World Championship — almost the same as the Super Bowl’s audience.

Is a degree in esports a waste of time?

Game on

Of course not, some argue. Its critics need to be more open-minded. Esports is going to revolutionise entertainment and sport, and its power grows every year. Young people must future-proof their education by acquiring skills in innovative growth industries.

An absolute waste, others respond. In terms of university, traditional subjects are still the most worthwhile — skills in maths, science, English or languages can be applied in countless industries. Students should consider apprenticeships too.

You Decide

  1. Are video games a sport?

Activities

  1. In a few years time, esports could become an Olympic event. Write down three reasons why this would be a good thing, and three reasons why it would be a bad thing. Overall, do you think esports should be in the Olympics?

Some People Say...

“Video games are a waste of time for men with nothing else to do. Real brains don’t do that.”

Ray Bradbury

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Esports is most popular among young people. A 2018 Washington Post poll found that 58% of 14 to 21-year-olds said they watched or recorded videos of people playing competitive video games.
What do we not know?
If esports will be able to grow to a size comparable with other major sports leagues. In North America, esports earns $345 million (£262 million) every year, compared to $14 billion (£10.6 billion) for the NFL.

Word Watch

£1.3 billion
According to market research company Newzoo.
Dota 2
A multiplayer online battle arena game (MOBA). Dota 2 matches involve two teams, each defending their own base on the map. Each player controls a character — known as a “hero” — who has its own unique abilities.
Tuned into
Esports secures its massive audiences by broadcasting tournaments for free over internet streaming sites. A large proportion of this audience is located in China.

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