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Focus: eSports Are In


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Focus: eSports Are In

Focus on…. A Call to Arms

Medics, engineers and cyber geeks are the armies of today’s frontline and we need more of them as the pace of change accelerates, say professionals and educationalists

The Deputy Head: Andrew Murfin, Deputy Head, Co-Curricular, and self-styled Minister of Fun at Bryanston is committed to changing peoples’ perception of eSports

When I joined Bryanston in 2020 I was asked at the interview, ‘how can we stop pupils gaming or watching Netflix at their desk?’, yet a year later our sixth form pupils were part of a schools’ eSports league, joining up with other schools like Millfield and Gordonstoun, to play fixtures in rocket league in the same way in which pupils meet up for sports fixtures!

As an Xiennial, a micro-generation born to an analogue childhood yet a digital working life, I’m keen to embrace technology and, rather than see eSports as an unwelcome hobby, to try to change the myths around it.

Esports encourages qualities such as critical and strategic thinking and collaborative teamwork and teaches pupils the importance of healthy competition. Fitness enhances performance, both in reaction times and concentration levels and so eventually we hope to treat our eSport team the same way we do our other top athletes by offering them bespoke training programmes. 

The benefits go far beyond the world of eSport. The attributes, skills and qualities that pupils gain are increasingly needed in academia and future professions. Whether that’s in engineering, medicine or the Forces, the use of technology is central. We want to encourage the wider Bryanston community to view eSports not as something for ‘non-sporty’ kids or simply a distraction, but an important vehicle for maximising our pupils’ future pathway.

There’s also the obvious link to other areas of computer science such as programming or coding and, while there is no direct contribution towards A-level qualifications, there’s certainly accreditation via the CAS element of our IB programmes (both the Diploma and the Career-Related Programme), as well as the DofE qualification. 

The world of eSports is flourishing with professional teams, corporate sponsorship deals and spectator events selling out arenas, and it is no wonder. During lockdown the need to find more interactive and creative ways of completing athletic races and events was in greater demand as evidenced by the popularity of the virtual fitness industry.

We absolutely see a future for inter-school competitions on Zwift, Peloton, Strava and other platforms and in the not-too-distant future we are looking to hold eSports conferences here at Bryanston, becoming a hub to enable gamers, schools and industry leaders to come together to discuss the future and compete.

Despite concerns over the compulsive, immersive nature of gaming and, as with all professional sport, the potential encroachment of anti-social elements such as gambling and performance-enhancing drugs (and hacking) – all of which need management – we can’t deny that the popularity of eSports is in the ascendency. As investment of major organisations increases, it’s hard to argue that we won’t be talking about eSports breaking into the mainstream media… and schools’ co-curricular provision.

Andrew Murfin

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