Steph and I arrived at the Metronome building in Nottingham early on 10th February 2023 and grabbed a quick coffee before being ushered into a very comfortable, very dark, but very fitting room and the Esports in Education Summit 2023 began. Kalam Neale welcomed us to the event, followed by an inspiring introductory talk by the Chair for the British Esports Federation, Andy Payne. Andy talked about his experience working in the gaming industry since 1995 and his work with the government and various organisations to develop the industry of gaming in the UK.
The opening panel for the conference was Student Champs: What does it take to compete in grassroots esports? Led by Alice Leaman, we heard from a number of esports students and teachers on their experience developing esports and esports education, the work being done to promote inclusivity and ways students are building valuable skillsets to help them in any career path. Following was Gary Tibbett, the education manager at British Esports, and Scott Santus, the Standards Verification Senior Team Leader at Pearson, reflecting on the Pearson and British Esports BTEC Qualifications – Growth and Development almost three years on.
If there was a theme for this section of the conference it would be multi-disciplinary. A phrase often used in academic circles and has developed into a buzz-word in recent years, but I would argue gaming and esports are the perfect case-study of seeing multi-disciplinary approaches in action. By design, the BTEC qualification in Esports utilises expertise over a range of topics, not only in gaming itself but from events management to health and wellbeing, coaching and leading a team to social media management, with students learning and being assessed in new and creative ways. Feedback from students on the earlier panel show that, not only do they as students love it, but institutions do too, with both students, Luis and Tom, crediting the opportunities they’ve been given from organisations and universities world-wide to the skills they have developed on their course.
After a short break, the focused moved onto more practical elements of designing and delivering esports in education. The Building and developing esports facilities in educational institutions panel, headed by Kalam, allowed us to hear from Shoubna Naika-Taylor, Gin Rai, and James Fraser-Murison, and their experience developing courses in esports.
Next, we moved on to an important discussion on Safeguarding in Esports: Leading best ways in practice, with Tom Dore, Sarah Trowler-Wren and Derek Johnstone, addressing how we keep children and vulnerable adults safe in eSports, the key risks and ways to overcome these.
After lunch was the highlight of the day – the British Esports Student Champs Showcase, which let us see what an esports competition looks like at the beautiful Confetti X – the Confetti Institute of Creative Technologies esports arena! Fully showcased and produced by students, we saw the Confetti Arrows host the Loughborough Lycans in a best-of-five game of Rocket League. Unfortunately for the hosts, the visitors were on top form and won three games in a row, taking the title of British Esports Summit 2023 Champions! (I made that title up but I think it should apply). The event not only let us see what esports looks like in action, but demonstrated the valuable skills being learned on these courses, not only within the games, but in event management, production and more. We also got to see the incredible suites and technology that are being invested in and are on display.
Moving back to Metronome, Domonic Sacco hosted The Professional Side of Esports – What does it look like? Panel with Emma ‘Emzii’ Rose, gold medallist at the 2023 Esports commonwealth championships, Michael Moriarty, Esports manager with Wolves, and Jeff Simpkins, operating officer at Resolve. They discussed what it is like to work in the esports industry in the UK, and for this industry to continue to grow and develop, it is crucial revenue is adapted so esports teams are less reliant on sponsorships (Which makes up approximately 70% of eSports teams income), and gain more revenue from regular events, as well as showing the value of eSports to government organisations. They also discussed how important it was for diversity to grow within eSports, mentioning how well Women in esport initiative is growing, and how far we still need to go.
The talks then moved onto the How Esports Supports Progression into Higher Education with Professor Philip Wilson, from College of Esports, and Camilla Maurice, from MidKent College, which echoed the themes of the morning sessions, highlighting the vast skills gained from Esports BTEC and university courses, and how these have grown over the last few years.
David Martin, COO of British Esports, closed the day by reflection on the successes of 2022, and looking to the future of Esports, with the National Esports Performance Campus opening in Sunderland this summer, more competitions and championships, including the Global Esports Games 2023 in December, and plans for British Esports to continue to grow and develop education programmes with students and educators, showing recognition for the great work they’re doing and will continue to do.
Thank you to British Esports, Confetti and all their other partners for hosting this event!