Starting in August of 2016, a Norwegian high school will be offering eSports classes as an elective.
The phenomenon of eSports began in the 1990s and has since exploded into a popular global pastime. Most of the video games are first-person shooters or real-time strategy games, and some of the most popular titles are Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, League of Legends, Dota 2, Smite, and StarCraft. Each has spawned not only tournaments, but entire economies.
The class at the Garnes Vidaregåande Skule will include 30 students in the equivalent of their junior year. At any one time, half of them will be playing video games and the other half will be doing physical workouts. All the students will be required to play 5 hours of video games a week, according to Jigmey Bhutia of the International Business Times.
The course is designed to work out students’ minds and their bodies, and they will learn about strategy and teamwork as well as work on developing their reflexes, lengthening their focus, and building endurance, reports Chris Weller of Tech Insider. Gaming is a popular and lucrative phenomenon for those good enough to compete at an international level, but skills like these can help in a variety of more mundane pursuits, from increasing typing speed to helping students improve their mental endurance and make testing easier.
The school carried out a poll on their Facebook page to determine which eSports would be taught in the class. The options included Dota 2, League of Legends, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, with the latter two winning the vote. Mat Paget of Gamespot reports that other student suggestions were Smite and Call of Duty, but they were much less popular in the polls.
The specialized gaming room will include 15 high-end gaming PCs, and will be decorated to put students in a competitive headspace. However, students will bring their own mice, keyboard, and headsets, because personal preference weighs heavily when it comes to gaming equipment.
The manager of the school’s science department, Peter Grahl Johnstad, said:
The eSports subject will be offered on an elective basis, in the same way as we currently offer sports specializations in handball and football.
We are the first school at the upper secondary level in the country to offer eSports as a specialization programme. There are, however, two folk high schools in the country that do offer eSports.
There will be a high degree of self-education when it comes to progressing your game, and the game room will be available during the day and evening time.
This is not the first time that education and eSports have crossed paths: some colleges in the US are already offering eSports scholarships, according to Anne-Marie Coyle of Game Reactor.
Even ESPN is joining in on the phenomenon, announcing recently that they plan to create an eSports channel along with a dedicated eSports section of their website.