Adelaide teacher Tom Fogarty believes eSports can benefit students in class. (Supplied: AGFA eSports)
In the modern-day classroom, gaming is common language.
That is the opinion of Adelaide’s Toby Fogarty, who is one of the increasing number of teachers using video games to re-engage with students.
The rise of esports in Australia is now influencing the classroom, with courses and subjects beginning to gain recognition — and realistic career paths being created.
Whether it be gaming professionally or getting involved with game creation, design and broadcasting, Mr Fogarty said he was a big believer in the impact that gaming could have as a teaching technique.
He teaches at the Academy of Gaming, Film and Animation at Northern Adelaide Senior College and has seen gaming bring students back from “almost dropping out, to completing their SACE”.
“We’ve been developing this course and building it up over the past three years, and we’ve been using gaming and game design for at least four years,” he said.
“Students play many games at many of the events we’ve run. We’ve run League of Legends, Rocket League, Counter Strike, FIFA, Street Fighter, so we look at esports pretty broadly and try as many as we can.”
The High School eSports League will put teams of five students up against each other playing League of Legends. (Supplied: AGFA eSports)
‘Gaming is creating a career path’
Mr Fogarty said the course in Adelaide aimed to help re-engage young adults with further learning, and said gaming was an industry which the younger generation could relate to.
“It’s a common language for us in class,” he said.
“It’s a drawcard for students to be able to come into class and have gaming be an accepted topic of conversation, like other people would for weekend sport.
“I think potentially it could help reach more students. Our course is specifically for students who have been referred to us.
“It’s about basically re-engaging them back into school so they’ve gone from maybe dropping out, to not just completing SACE but having a direct pathway into further learning, which is what we’re trying to do.
“[We’re] just trying to set a career path for them or a further learning pathway, but at the same time, linking them with a community that every year is getting bigger.”
The High School eSports League has already secured 10 teams from schools in Adelaide. (Supplied: AGFA eSports)
Students from the academy in Adelaide will take part in the inaugural High School eSports League (HSEL), a national competition which will pit students against each other from around the country.
A group of seven students will participate from Mr Fogarty’s class, competing in the game League of Legends.
“Riot Games have paired up with the Adelaide Crows and their esports team and they are running the tournament … it’s a booming industry and it’s not going to go away,” Mr Fogarty said.
So far 10 schools from Adelaide have registered a team for the tournament, including Adelaide High, Reynella East College and Tatachilla Lutheran College.
What is the High School eSports League?
The Adelaide Football Club has played a big part in setting up the HSEL, teaming up with Riot Games to provide the competition, which gives students a platform to use esports at school.
Professional gamer and High School eSports League Commissioner Woody Wu said the league was about giving gamers a platform to learn in a school environment but to also compete nationally.
“Through the HSEL and Adelaide Football Club we are running in five states, so every state except Queensland and New South Wales is playing with League of Legends,” he said.
Why are the Adelaide Crows involved?
Nigel Smart believes eSports are the “next big thing” for traditional sporting codes. (ABC News: BTN)
The Crows were the first AFL club to get involved with esports, purchasing the team Legacy eSports in May, 2017.
Adelaide Football Club’s chief operating officer Nigel Smart said the gaming trend was “a massive growth opportunity”.
“The thing about esports is that a lot of young people and younger generations are gamers,” he said.
“We are a community club and we want to bring people together and try to achieve great things, whether that’s through football or other pathways.”
How will the competition work?
Schools that registered interest for the HSEL competition will be put into pools to compete for the crown in their home state.
The winning teams from South Australia’s pool will compete for a chance to represent Australia. (Supplied: HSEL)
The top team or teams from each state will then move on to a premier league competition where they will compete against the top teams from South Australia, Western Australia, Northern Territory, Victoria and Tasmania.
From there, the winner of the premier league will be crowned the state champion and compete at the Australian and New Zealand High School League of Legends Championship.
But fear not gamers, all teams who do not qualify for the premier league will continue on in the competition in what is called the “Challenger Tour”.
There they will compete for prizes, school pride and team development. The High School eSports League is set to begin on May 31.
‘It’s an expanding industry’
The Adelaide Crows are not alone within the esports industry, with the Essendon Football Club also purchasing the professional team, Abyss, in December last year.
Mr Smart said he expected many more top-level teams around Australia to get involved, describing esports as “the next big thing”.
“As a football club we already have a large digital focus, but in the future we are going to have to look at the platform differently,” he said.
“One of the biggest benefits of having an esports team is our engagement and improving our fanbase.
“There are already announcements coming in the future that I know of from other teams [getting involved] … a lot of traditional sporting backgrounds will be making further announcements about esports.”
Mr Smart said the international audience was one of the biggest factors that attracted the club to esports.
“It’s a global business … players want to do a lot more internationally and want to play and compete not just in Australia, but around the world,” he said.
“It’s an expanding industry and an expanding business.”