From Esports Enthusiast to Cultural Ambassador: An Esports Student's Journey to Japan

In a world where virtual and reality often blur, one student is taking his passion for esports to the international stage.

A male esports student broadcasting live.

Callum Clark, BSc Esports student

For me, I think that the integration of my love for esports comes in the form of extra-curriculars as well as cultural exchange outside of the classroom

Callum Clark, BSc Esports student

In a world where the boundaries between virtual and reality often blur, one Staffordshire University London student is breaking new ground, taking his passion for esports from the digital realm to an international stage. Meet Callum Clark, a third-year esports student whose journey is about to take an exciting turn as he embarks on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme.

When he received the email notifying him of his acceptance into the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme, his initial reaction was one of surprise. "I was personally shocked!" he recalled. "The interview was daunting, and I walked out of it almost certain that I'd failed. I got the email at midday after seeing all of my friends get their acceptances hours earlier, but the initial feeling was euphoric."

Over the past three years, Callum has immersed himself in all aspects of esports and his dedication and talent have not gone unnoticed. Esports lecturer, Joshua Lindsey said, “Callum will be an outstanding candidate for the JET programme and any future endeavours due to his strong work ethic and continuous desire to learn! While teaching in the esports programme, he has consistently surprised me with new ideas in his work and a willingness to help out with broadcasting events. I'm excited to see all he will achieve when bringing his skills, knowledge, and experience to Japan”.

Callum has also garnered recognition beyond the university community by attending events such as ICE London, ESIC Global Esports Summit and venturing into the role of Broadcast Director for His Majesty’s VGCS, an independent large-scale Vanguard tournament hosted in Staffordshire University London’s own gaming arena.

For Callum, his decision to apply for the JET Programme was driven by a desire for cultural exchange, "The JET programme to me has always been about cultural exchange rather than teaching," he explains. "The goal I've wanted to chase in esports is to close the East-West divide that currently exists in the player base and viewer base. I was hoping that whilst directly in Japan, I'd be able to further understand why that divide exists and then change my plans to best fix any issues that exists."

As graduation approaches in the coming months, while some students are still figuring out their next steps. For Callum, the path forward couldn't be any clearer. Inspired by his love for Japanese culture and language, he is preparing to take on the role of Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) in Japan. Callum sees an opportunity to integrate his passion for esports into his work outside the classroom. "For me, I think that the integration of my love for esports comes in the form of extra-curriculars as well as cultural exchange outside of the classroom," he explains. "And that requires me to push myself to communicate and understand the personal impact of Japanese esports on an individual level and work my way from there."

While Callum’s journey may seem like a departure from his esports roots, he sees it as an opportunity to bridge cultures and share his passion with others. Japan boasts a thriving esports scene, with dedicated fans and top-tier tournaments attracting players from around the world. Callum hopes to leverage his expertise in esports to connect with students and community members during his time in Japan, fostering cross-cultural understanding and collaboration through gaming. Looking ahead, Callum plans to set up a broadcast company in Japan, with the aim of producing 'localised' streams of Japanese esports events for a Western audience. "My primary business idea is to set up a broadcast company that produces 'localised' streams of Japanese esports events which can be pushed to a Western audience," he reveals. "The biggest divide currently between esports in the East and West is the language barrier, so eliminating that barrier will be the first step."

Callum credits his education at Staffordshire University London for preparing him for this unique opportunity. "A lot of the opportunities I got to write about esports cultures involved the East-West divide because it was an issue that I spoke about a lot with some of my Japanese friends," he explains. "As a result of hearing about their issues, I decided to spend more time studying it in modules that allowed for it, and using that knowledge, I'll be able to get a better insight than most."

As he prepares to immerse himself in Japanese culture and the local gaming scene, Callum is most excited about exploring the dedication and passion of the Japanese gaming community. "Although I am not an avid player of fighting games, the Japanese local scene is one that is spoken about in gaming communities a lot for their dedication to the games they play and the lengths they go to be the best in their local scene," he shares.

As he looks to the future, Callum anticipates challenges in balancing his teaching responsibilities with starting his esports business. "I personally think the time I have available will be my biggest issue!" he admits. "Japanese workplaces have been known to be notoriously hard on the people who work in them, and that has been a documented issue that people know of globally. I've personally always had a knack for squeezing the extra 5 and 10 minutes whenever I get, and the motivation to work in this time will always be high no matter what's happening outside of that work."

In the long term, Callum hopes to make a lasting impact through his work in the JET Programme and his esports business in Japan. "In terms of my role as an ALT, I look to use my niche knowledge as a basis to work on cultural exchange between the UK and Japan," he says. "And with my business, I hope to do the inverse and give the West the insight into Asian esports that have been lacking for years now."

As Callum embarks on this exciting new chapter, he carries with him the lessons learned and experiences gained at Staffordshire University London, confident in his ability to make a meaningful contribution to both the world of esports and cross-cultural exchange.

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