Schools em­brace e-sport clubs

The West Australian - - NEWS - Bethany Hi­att Ed­u­ca­tion Edi­tor

The hun­dreds of hours spent play­ing com­puter games could pay off for to­day’s teenagers, with Aus­tralian schools leap­ing into the rapidly grow­ing arena of com­pet­i­tive on­line gam­ing known as “e-sports”.

Hale School has em­braced the trend, of­fer­ing stu­dents a com­puter gam­ing club along­side other op­tions such as chess, de­bat­ing or mu­sic.

This year, Hale en­tered teams in a na­tional gam­ing com­pe­ti­tion and to­day the school will host the grand fi­nal of an in­ter-school cham­pi­onship or­gan­ised by Flak­test Gam­ing.

Hale’s e-sports team co­or­di­na­tor Jon Lam­otte said the school aimed to help stu­dents who were al­ready in­volved in on­line gam­ing and give them a chance to com­pete within a sup­port­ive com­mu­nity.

He said the gam­ing in­dus­try had be­come big­ger than any other form of en­ter­tain­ment and many young­sters spent hours play­ing com­puter games as a pas­time.

“How things have changed re­cently is that th­ese pas­times have ac­tu­ally started to move more into the pro­fes­sional world,” he said.

“We now have pro­fes­sional e-sports play­ers and we have col­leges in Amer­ica tak­ing it se­ri­ously to the ex­tent they’re of­fer­ing schol­ar­ships for stu­dents com­ing into their col­lege to be a pro­fes­sional e-sports player.”

Mr Lam­otte said bring­ing gam­ing into a school en­vi­ron­ment al­lowed teach­ers to im­pose guide­lines, in­clud­ing ban­ning on­line put-downs known as flam­ing, and to dis­cuss eth­i­cal is­sues such as the use of vi­o­lence. It also al­lowed teach­ers to model good on­line be­hav­iour and it gave par­ents a chance to be in­volved in their chil­dren’s pur­suits.

“It’s no longer just about a kid in front of a screen, it’s about a com­mu­nity get­ting in­volved in some­thing that kids love,” he said.

More than 400 peo­ple are ex­pected at Hale to­day to watch teams from schools in NSW and Vic­to­ria com­pete in the strat­egy game League of Leg­ends. Flak­test Gam­ing founder Brett Sullivan said teams from more than 20 WA schools were in­volved in na­tional gam­ing events.

Pic­ture: Danella Be­vis

Hale School stu­dents Joshua Pur­wien, 15, Ben Blake-Pow­ell, 16, and Joel Wil­loughby, 16.

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