“The research we conducted with the Digital Schoolhouse has been a great insight into the positive aspects of esports, particularly with regards to developing friendships and personal skills, which students can take with them into other aspects of their lives.”
Staffordshire University Associate Professor of Games Education, Dr Bobbie Fletcher
Esports empowers young people and boosts their careers aspirations, according to a new study carried out by Staffordshire University.
Over 2,000 pupils participated in the study which was launched today (September 20) at the annual general meeting of Ukie, the trade body for the UK games and interactive entertainment industry.
Carried out by academics at Staffordshire University which has recently launched the UK's first Esports degree, the research set out to determine the effects of taking part in the Digital Schoolhouse Esports Tournament 2018.
Pupils aged 12 - 18 were involved in the tournament, which takes place in three stages between October and April, where they got to take on various roles, including event management, production, tournament administration, community management, on-screen talent and players.
The findings showed that:
• 82 per cent of players said they were more likely to participate in other team sports, as a result of taking part in the tournament
• 94 per cent said that taking part made them more interested in computers/computing subjects
• 88 per cent said that taking part in the tournament made them more interested in a career in the video games industry
The study collected data from pupils and schools involved and focused on two key research questions: Whether participating in esports created a positive behavioural change in young players and whether participating in esports influenced the career paths and STEM interests of young players.
Key findings include an increase in transferable skills, with Communication (74 per cent) and Team Working (80 per cent) coming top.
Positive effects of bonds of friendship amongst participants were also reported, with 67 per cent of respondents stating that friendship bonds grew over the course of the tournament and 94 per cent of friendships were maintained or grew during the competition.
Qualitative evidence from teachers and schools involved in the tournament further reinforced these findings, particularly regarding the effects on behaviour and engagement amongst harder to reach students.
Meanwhile, almost 90 per cent of students said that the tournament had increased their interest in a career in the video games industry and that it had increased their interest in computers and computing.
Staffordshire University Associate Professor of Games Education Dr Bobbie Fletcher said: “The research we conducted with the Digital Schoolhouse has been a great insight into the positive aspects of esports, particularly with regards to developing friendships and personal skills, which students can take with them into other aspects of their lives.”
Rachel Gowers, Associate Dean in Staffordshire Business School added: “With employers constantly pointing out the skills gap in young people as confidence, communication and the ability to network, this report has clearly identified the advantages of teaching young people these skills in a way they can relate to. The benefits have not only affected their behaviour in the classroom but more importantly it has a positive impact on every area of their lives. We plan to develop this research further, assisted by our new Esports Degree and Masters students that have just started at Staffordshire University.”
Shahneila Saeed, Head of education at Ukie and director of Digital Schoolhouse, said: “The tournament’s impact on the numbers of students interested in computing has been fantastic. A real eye opener has been the increase in other areas too; improved confidence and self-esteem, better team working and communication and strategic thinking skills too. Additionally, the transformative effects we’ve seen on participating schools has been phenomenal. All this combined with that magical fun factor make this one of the most effective and meaningful learning experiences we can find today.”
Ukie’s Digital Schoolhouse, powered by PlayStation® programme, uses play-based learning to engage the next generation of pupils and teachers with the Computing curriculum. Digital Schoolhouse is funded by the UK games industry with sponsors including SEGA, Ubisoft and Warwickshire County Council and was originally seed funded by the Mayor of London’s London Schools Excellence Fund (LSEF). The programme reached over 15,000 students last year via its network of selected schools and their work with their local primary and secondary teachers in delivering a creative and cross-curricular computing lessons using play-based learning. Its aim is to bridge the gap between industry and education and build digital skills by inspiring the next generation. For more information about the next e-sports Tournament, visit www.digitalschoolhouse.org.uk
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