An eSports lecturer at Staffordshire University is hoping to banish misconceptions about the controversial live gaming industry.
Last Sunday, Essex schoolboy, Jaden Ashman, won almost £1 million participating in a competition unknown to the vast majority of people.
The stunning victory did not involve scoring the winning goal at a World Cup Final, putting a hole in one at a Masters Tournament or beating Roger Federer at Wimbledon.
It involved playing Fortnite, an online computer game, whilst being observed by thousands in New York’s Billie Jean King’s National Tennis Centre.
Although the prize money may be enticing to some, the industry has come under fire for encouraging youngsters to engage in a sedentary lifestyle, with even Jaden Ashman’s mother admitting to once throwing out her sons Xbox in the hope he would turn his attentions to his schoolwork.
However, Stuart Kosters, an eSports lecturer at Staffordshire University hopes that offering a degree course on the already billion-dollar industry will change perceptions.
“Gaming has changed since the days of playing in arcades, it became digital and then people suddenly became stuck indoors,” said Kosters.
“Now it’s reaching a new era where there’s a better mix of being healthier about it, both mentally and physically.
“One of the misconceptions is that the larger quantity of gamers suffer from mental health issues. Tucking themselves away and being very antisocial, whereas online games are actually a very social and contemporary way of interacting.
“They create friendships, build confidence. A lot of people find they form very strong and real friendships with a very engaged community.”
Fortnite alone has an estimated 125 million players worldwide, highlighting the huge potential the industry has and the scope for possible job opportunities.
“eSports is becoming more mainstream now. More people are now able to play together from across the globe,” added Kostas.
“It’s also getting a lot of media attention; we are seeing more success stories leading to companies investing huge amounts of money.
“It’s now becoming a more viable career option with viewership peaking. More people watched the Fortnite World Cup than the NBA final and more than the NHL ice hockey in Canada.”
The lecturer, who is a firm believer in doing what you’re passionate about for a job, understands the concerns parents may feel about their child embarking upon a career in eSports, but insists the industry is not just playing videogames.
“At the University, we focus very much on the business side of the industry,” Said Kosters
“We look at the avenues between effectively using human resources and public relations. How companies are formed, broadcasting, events management, how the eco system of the eSports environment works, how you can utilise different functional skills for both inside and outside the industry.
“Games as an industry is a huge export for us now, a billion-dollar industry. With that growth you’ve got job opportunity.”