Joyce Mae Manalo dreams with a national esports league with teams representing the most competitive universities of the Philippines. Fortunately for “dreaming” educators like her around the world, if their students are millennials or younger, they are likely on board already.
Students worldwide are already playing. Many belong to leagues and join championship on a regular basis. Companies are definitely on the loop and as a result there’s a sprawling ecosystem, healthily sponsored by way of corporate sponsorships. Just walk into an esports “Arena,” often called “Gyms” —plenty of those on most mid-to-large cities already— and see for yourself how this, for many a pastime, is big business, boasting franchises, teams, exclusive sponsorship deals for athletes, and a 16-year old champion entitled to $3 million USD. His ultimate skill? Fortnite.
- ESPN has had a full-fledged esports sub-portal for quite some time. ESPN+ broadcast the 2019 League of Legends World Championship finals live. Find ESPN on Twitch! (Now how many of you ever expected to read something like that?). Esports have been so established already they were worthy of one of those “Decade in Review” recap articles.
- Manalo’s country, recent host of the SEA Games —an IOC-supervised event— included esports as a medal-winning discipline. The 2024 Paris Summer Olympics and 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games have confirmed the inclusion of medal-winning esports competitions. While it’s almost certain there will not be esports on next summer’s Tokyo 2020, IOC-endorsed Intel World Open 2020 will run in parallel nearby, July 22 to 24.
- In the U.S., Universities and colleges across the nation offer varsity esports programs. As of a year ago, the list was in the hundreds. Say hello to the National Association of Collegiate Esports.
- According to Activate’s Technology & Media Outlook 2020, Esport events average more viewers than all major sports leagues except Football, and dwarfs them all for viewers aged 18-24.
- The esports industry value has grown in the double digits for at least the past year. It might hit 700 million viewers and the $1 billion USD mark by 2022 and the $7 billion globally, mostly from advertising, sponsorships, event tickets and paid streaming, and increasingly betting.
Esports around the LMS corner
The business and money-making prospects of esports, while hard to ignore, had no screen time on Manalo’s slides as she showcased her experience assembling esports inititatives, within her duties as a team member at the The University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) Faculty of Information and Communication Studies; at 2019’s National Conference on Open and Distance eLearning.
If there was a word that did feature reoccurringly in Manalo’s talk, was collegiality. For a distance education institution like UPOU, esports are the ideal extracurricular activity meant for socialization, team building and lifting the University’s spirits in the mind of both the athletes and the community who livestreams the live matches, for which UPOU uses Facebook Live in addition to its Discord server.
We had previously mentioned some of the benefits to bring esports along a learning experience, sharing many but not all the attributes of gamification. Just like the global phenomenon, the games are only the foundation for the emergent possibilities and interactions that may arise. Coming up, Manalo’s team envision a league, which can include the 7 campuses of the UP system as well as UPOU and evolve into varsity and a national league. The teams representing the country in the SEA games, both of which won gold, have raised the momentum for esports in the university.