Esports in Education – Mark McCready, British Esports

Mark, the Scottish Liaison Officer for British Esports, provides an overview of the huge potential for Esports in Scottish Education.

One of the speakers for our upcoming webinar series ‘Code The Future’ will be Mark McCready, Scottish Liaison Officer for British Esports.

Mark provided us an overview of his work to set the scene for what he will explore in detail via his session.

For some further background, check out other interviews with Mark with the ESports Research Network and the Scottish Games Network.

British Esports

The British Esports Association was set up in 2016 with approval from the UK Government to provide an industry body for the fledgling sector.

Their goal is to advise the government on how best to develop the industry, liaise with organizations like UKIE, provide a forum for developing relationships with professional Esports players, and to support the growth of the grass roots amateur scene.

The headline theme is growing the role of Esports in Education, and with a particular emphasis on doing so safely – They’ve produced a Parents and Carers Guide in association with the NSPCC. They research the potential benefits including the social impacts and personal development, particularly for key groups including the disabled and neurodivergent.

This is underpinned through the development of the world’s first BTEC course in conjunction with Pearson. There are 70 approved centres for the course across the UK and 150 across the world, stretching as far as Costa Rica.

Capturing the huge potential for Education, especially addressing issues like Scotland’s dramatic decline in Computer Science uptake, the course exposes students to a broad range of domains, from technical skills such as cybersecurity through business ones like events management, and even athletic sports training.

It can therefore act as a standalone qualification or act as a gateway into a variety of different possible career paths.

Esports in Scotland: Massive Potential

Mark’s role is to focus these programs on Scotland, and sets the scene by describing how colleges like Edinburgh, Glasgow Clyde, Forth Valley and West College Scotland are participating in the Scottish College Cup, and also in tournaments with others across the UK.

Glasgow Clyde also offers a great case study of the providing the course, highlighting the key point about the diverse range of skills covered:

“On the course, students study computing units like infrastructure, application development and programming to get a fundamental knowledge base in computing, which helps them progress to a diverse range of HND courses. The course also incorporates an NPA in Games Development in a year-long portfolio production that has the student design and make their own games for added value and depth of understanding.”

The BBC writes that Esports has massive potential in Scotland, describing the work of Esports Scotland, a companion organization to British Esports – They organize Scottish Esports events and run the Scottish Esports League. In a previous blog we describe how the local industry has grown from a grassroots movement to a budding ecosystem thanks to their efforts.

A 5G Future

In conclusion an especially powerful factor to highlight and recommend is the synergy with other technology fields critical to Scotland’s digital future, such as 5G, being pioneered by the Scotland 5G Centre.

Mark highlighted one of the challenges for schools to embrace Esports is how the IT infrastructure is out of date for the requirements, such as the school’s Internet access often being restricted by the local authorities, understandably for security reasons but in a way that limits innovations such as Esports gaming. He sees great potential therefore for the role of new network access methods like 5G.

This is where the magic can happen for Scotland – An R&D and funding program concentrating on these sweet spots will yield multiple societal and economic benefits for the nation: Startups embedded at the heart of hyper-growth sectors like 5G & Gaming, a massively improved national infrastructure and critically, a massive boost in those enrolling in a curriculum designed for the future.

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