Arkansas Activities Association launches Esports in high schools

Arkansas Activities Association launches Esports in high schools

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) — The world of competitive gaming, known as Esports, has evolved its way into high schools across the Natural State.

Esports stands as an ever-growing global industry projected to be worth $1 billion in 2019, according to Esports analytics group Newzoo.

This is a dream-turned reality for one Lake Hamilton High School senior.

“I’ve been playing since middle school so whenever the opportunity came up to play again my love competitively, I was like, this should be easy,” said Steven Tyler Turner.

The Arkansas Activities Association partnered up with PlayVS, a California-based Esports league that focuses solely on high schools.

PlayVS has coordinated with the National Federation of State High School Associations to to write rules for high school play.

High schools in more than 12 states are affiliated with PlayVS.

Students must meet certain academic standards in order to participate as is the case for students wanting to play sports such as football, baseball or basketball.

More than 80 schools in Arkansas have signed up for eSports, which offers competition in the spring and fall semesters.

The games offered are Smite, League of Legends and Rocket League.

Arkansas Activities Association launches Esports in high schools1
Students at Lake Hamilton High School spend after school hours practicing for upcoming online competition against other high school teams. (KATV Photo).
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Turner’s specialty is League of Legends.

“It really forces you to learn how to cooperate with people and League of Legends is known for people getting really mad or tilted,” Turner said.

The AAA’s first and foremost goal is to boost student participation, especially by attracting those who aren’t involved in any extracurricular activities.

Derek Walter, AAA assistant executive director, stressed the importance of students learning a variety of life skills while playing video games competitively.

“How can we get them to participate with a team? A teacher coach that will teach them life lessons to teach them how to lose. That’s a huge thing in life,” Walter said.

Walter admits he’s a bit surprised at the positive reception from school administrators, seeing how video games carries a stigma when it comes to correlating gaming with physical exercise.

“We thought we’d have a lot of negative comments regarding the physical aspect of it but really, we still want those kids to do those extracurricular activities where they’re physically active so we’re really not trying to take away from that,” Walter said.

Arkansas Activities Association launches Esports in high schools
Both boys and girls are welcome to participate in competition. Games include League of Legends, Smite and Rocket League, all of which are non-graphically violent. (KATV Photo).
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Logan Horton serves as AP World History teacher and Esports coach at Lake Hamilton High School. Horton is adamant when it comes to the benefits of team-based video game competition.

“In the last few years, we’ve seen this really big emphasis on STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) so I can show and encourage these parents Esports will involve them in teamwork and communication and critical thinking skills. All these things that we’re trying to teach students in school anyway,” Horton said.

While focused mainly on academics and school bond, Turner knows there’s great potential for Esports to take off in Arkansas.

From the potential of receiving scholarships for Esports simply earning bragging rights in the state championship , Turner is ready to drum up competition.

“It’s really fun to be able to play a game and to know you’re able to do it for a cause greater than doing it for enjoyment. I think it’s just inspiring to just be a part of this blowup,” Turner said.

According to PlayVS, 200 colleges and universities in North America provide scholarships related to Esports.

Henderson State University is the first college in Arkansas to have an official eSports team and offer scholarships for competitive gaming.

To learn more about AAA’s role in the Esports program, click here.

To learn more about PlayVS, click here.

by Zack Briggs Sunday, February 17th. 2019

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Interpret: Women make up 30% of esports audience, up 6.5% from 2016

Interpret- Women make up 30% of esports audience, up 6.5% from 2016

Women’s viewership of esports grew from 23.9 percent of all watchers in 2016 to 30.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018, according to a report by market researcher Interpret. That 6.5 percent change is a considerable leap, considering the heavy representation of men in both esports audiences and professional athletes in the past.

“Changing behaviors among a large segment of people is difficult. Progress of this size always takes time; however, a [6.5 percent] gain in gender share over a two-year period is a trend in the right direction,” said Tia Christianson, the vice president of research in Europe for Interpret, in a statement. “If two years from now, the female audience grabs an additional 6 percent in share, esports viewership will be in gender parity with what we consider standard among traditional console and PC games.”

She added, “As an industry, more progress will be made as females’ role in traditional esports titles continue to grow, given the efforts from some of the industry leaders. More likely than not, a lot of that growth may come in non-traditional esport genres, and especially games tailored to mobile and tablet devices.”

Interpret- Women make up 30% of esports audience, up 6.5% from 2016
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Christianson said that women’s viewership has consistently gained share nearly every quarter since 2016.Of those that play games considered an esport on console/PC, only 35 percent are female. Of those that consider themselves esports watchers, 30 percent are women. Of those that watch esports leagues, 20 percent are women.

Of those that play games considered an esport on console/PC, only 35 percent are female. Of those that consider themselves esports watchers, 30 percent are women. Of those that watch esports leagues, 20 percent are women.

But casual gaming (defined as those who log many hours on mobile and few on PC/console) is dominated by women at 66 percent.

Interpret said the slow increase in traditional female fans of esports may be due to an increased prevalence of mobile games in competitive gaming. According to Skillz, a platform that offers mobile competitive gaming and boasts a large selection of casual games, 7 of the top 10 mobile earners on their platform in 2018 were female.

Skillz has shown that one of the keys to increasing female participation in esports or competitive gaming may be through mobile and tablet devices, with games in nontraditional esports genres.

Extremely low female involvement in major esports titles like CS:GO (24 percent female), DOTA 2 (20 percent female), Hearthstone (26 percent female), Rainbow 6: Siege (23 percent female), and even Overwatch (26 percent female) highlights the core challenge in attracting more female esports fans, Interpret said.

BY DEAN TAKAHASHI @DEANTAK FEBRUARY 21, 2019 12:01 PM

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Newzoo Estimates eSports Revenue Will Eclipse $1 billion This Year

Newzoo estimates esports revenue will eclipse $1 billion this year

PHOTO: The crowd roars during the Overwatch League finals on July 27 at the Barclays Center in New York City. Market research firm Newzoo released projections for the esports industry Tuesday that include $1.1 billion in expected revenues for 2019. Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Blizzard Entertainment

The esports market is expected to eclipse $1 billion in revenue for the first time in 2019, according to a market report from research firm Newzoo released on Tuesday.

The esports industry brought in $865.1 million in revenue in 2018, according to Newzoo, and stands to reach $1.1 billion in 2019 based on the company’s projections. With a growth rate of 22.3 percent year over year, Newzoo predicted that the industry will rake in $1.79 billion in revenue by 2022.

These numbers are more modest than previous reports from the firm, which outlined $1.5 billion by 2020. The industry will take an additional year, to hit those numbers, according to Tuesday’s report.

The audience for the space is also expected to grow to include 453.8 million people who consume at least one esports event per year in 2019, with 201 million of those fans watching at least one esports event per month, according to the firm. In 2018, Newzoo found 394.6 million people watched at least one esports event per year.

In October and November, more than 58.3 million hours of the League of Legends World Championship were consumed by viewers, with the majority of that viewership stemming from China. By comparison, the second most-watched tournament, the Dota 2 Asia Championships in February 2018, accrued a total of 12 million hours viewed.

The majority of the esports revenue will come from brand investments, which Newzoo categorizes as sponsorships, advertising and media rights. Forty-two percent of revenues are projected to come from sponsorships, which have hit record numbers in the past few years, according to the report. In the past few months, companies such as Coca-Cola, Alienware and others have forged global deals with the Overwatch League and League Championship Series respectively.

Newzoo also predicted an uptick in interest from media companies both on digital and linear TV. In late 2017 and throughout 2018, the League Championship Series and Overwatch League struck multimillion-dollar deals with ESPN, while the Overwatch League also finalized a two-year, $90-million deal with Amazon-owned livestreaming platform Twitch. Other livestreaming platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Caffeine — which raised $100 million from Fox News in September — have committed to making bigger investments in the space as well.

Despite increased interest and revenues, average spending per fan will likely increase but still remain very low compared to traditional sports, Newzoo said. In 2019, regular esports consumers will spend $5.45 per year on esports, excluding the purchase of game titles.

Of the 173 million people who consumed esports more than once a month, 72 percent were men, while 28 percent were women, according to Newzoo’s report. The dominant age range for both was 21-35, including 39 percent of men and 15 percent of women. Of viewers who watched at least once per year, Newzoo found that 66 percent were men and 34 percent were women.

Although the benchmark of $1 billion provides optimism, there are some signs that the esports industry is struggling in other areas. Despite more than $500 million being committed to franchise fees in both the Overwatch League and Riot Games’ League Championship Series and League European Championship in 2017 and 2018, some investors have looked to sell, while some teams have made layoffs within the last six months.

In October, OpTic Gaming and Houston Outlaws parent Infinite Esports & Entertainment — which committed $33 million in franchise fees to the Overwatch League and League Championship Series in 2017 — laid off 19 employees and ousted CEO Chris Chaney. Their main shareholders, a group comprised of Texas Rangers owners Neil Leibman and Ray Davis, are now looking to sell majority stake of that company for around $150 million, ESPN reported in January.

Infinite’s ownership group is not alone. Vision Venture Partners, the parent of Echo Fox and Twin Galaxies, had layoffs in November after its H1Z1 Pro League began to unravel in fall 2018. The Overwatch League had layoffs, too, after it overspent its original estimates, league sources said. Its parent company, Activision Blizzard, also shuttered the Heroes of the Storm Global Championship in December, and Activision Blizzard is expected to lay off hundreds employees this week, per a Thursday report from Bloomberg.

BY JACOB WOLF, ESPN STAFF WRITER FEBRUARY 12, 2019 02:39 PM

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