Esports empowers young people and boosts careers aspirations, says study

Over 2,000 students participated in Staffordshire University's research, undertaken to determine the effect of participating in the 2018 Digital Schoolhouse Esports Tournament

A study into the educational impact of esports was launched on September 20 at the annual general meeting of Ukie, the trade body for the UK games and interactive entertainment industry.

The study, conducted by Staffordshire University, examined data to determine the effect of participation in the Digital Schoolhouse Esports Tournament 2018. Over 2000 students aged 12-18 participated in various roles, including event management, production, tournament administration, community management, on-screen talent and players. The skills these roles helped to develop were recognised by the Duke of York’s Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award (iDEA).

Key findings of the study included 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.

The results show that taking part not only improved people’s skills and confidence, but sparked their interest in subjects, job roles and opportunities they may not have thought were possible before.

Positive change

Staffordshire University’s study collected data from participating students and schools and focused on two key research questions: whether participating in esports created a positive behavioural change in young players that translated into behaviour modification in other aspects of their lives, and whether participating influenced the career paths and STEM interests of young players.

Shahneila Saeed, Head of Education at Ukie and Director of Digital Schoolhouse, said: “The continued growth of technology and the digital industry means that computer science skills will not just play an integral role in the jobs of the future, but are also an essential element of the work that we do today. While the introduction of the computing curriculum has been the right way forward to help us upskill the next generations, in current real terms its effect has so far been minimal. This means we’re facing a skills gap in one of the fastest growing industries in the world.

“The results show that taking part not only improved people’s skills and confidence, but sparked their interest in subjects, job roles and opportunities they may not have thought were possible before.”

“E-sports offers a great opportunity to take a popular pastime and turn it into an enriching learning opportunity. 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. 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.”

Mark Ward, of St John Fisher Catholic Voluntary Academy, said: “Getting involved in the tournament has been amazing. I can bring the pupils’ world into my lessons – I can use role models that they have heard of, and talk about careers that they are interested in and passionate about; all whilst playing games. The most amazing thing, this is a world that is open to everybody.”

Digital Schoolhouse’s esports tournament takes place in three stages, with school heats beginning in October each year, followed by regional qualifiers and the grand final in April.

For more information about the next e-sports Tournament, visit digitalschoolhouse.org.uk.