HAMK introduces e-sports into education
Competition level electronic sports is a growing phenomenon that also has something to offer to universities. HAMK has taken on the subject and is incorporating e-sports into courses as early as next autumn.
Text: Jaana Siljamäki, Photo: Jukka Raitanen
Article in finnish.
Häme University of Applied Sciences has gradually been working on their new HAMK Gaming Academy, which will serve as an umbrella concept for ways to introduce e-sports into education and research. Eveliina Toivonen, Senior Lecturer in business administration, and Jukka Raitanen, Community Manager, are convinced of the many opportunities e-sports offers, including in the academic world. In recent years, e-sports has significantly increased its significance in the world and Finland is at an internationally high level in the sport. A recent interesting research result found that last year e-sports passed ice hockey as the most popular pastime for young men (19-29 years old).
“With e-sports we can create unique, memorable experiences. E-sports is not only entertaining and communal, it also develops strategic thinking as well as team and leadership skills. The topic also hasn’t been studied very much, which is one key opportunity for us,” said Eveliina Toivonen.
Not just gaming
Integrating e-sports into courses does not mean that the students have an opportunity to play their way through an entire course. Gaming can be included in the studies, for example, from a teamwork perspective. According to Toivonen and Raitanen, HAMK’s interest in e-sports focuses on its ecosystem, i.e. its related brands, education, event production, and its consumer perspective, i.e. business issues, and how the topic can be linked to existing HAMK research areas.
“Design and smart design are some of our existing research areas, so we could develop gaming-friendly smart clothing that collects data on gaming. Another possible area of research is what kind of pedagogical models are suitable for coaching e-sports,” Raitanen said whilst listing examples.
Toivonen says she has also explored the topic’s potential by posting a spontaneous question on Twitter that asked what kind of e-sports theses would be beneficial for different operators.
“My question quickly received 37 replies. These included contacts from sports clubs, companies engaged in influencer marketing and operators maintaining game facilities.”
E-sports create opportunities for nursing as well as engineers
Next autumn, the aim is to create an optional e-sports study module, worth 15 study credits. Regardless of their field, the module would be open for all students.
“One of the dimensions of e-sports is its link to preventing exclusion, which is what the Bunkkeri game space, maintained by the Hämeenlinna parish and the city, is partly intended for. This perspective would provide opportunities for cooperation with the care sector,” Toivonen said.
The technical side of gaming and the live streaming of gaming events, as well as the production of the gaming events themselves, would be suitable for technical and business sector training. The content of the study module will be planned during the spring.
Pilots are already under way
Several aspects of e-sports have already been piloted for the upcoming HAMK Gaming Academy. Both staff and students have been involved in streaming and organising gaming events. In addition, a team of HAMK students recently won the Hämpton Games event, which also included teams from other cities. Several theses have already been done and more are under way. In addition, the most important e-sports organisation in Finland, ENCE eSports, got new ideas for its social media strategy from a student project.
Everything related to gaming is still fairly new in the Finnish higher education world when compared to, for example the United States, where e-sports is already heavily featured in the form of comprehensive training modules and university-owned e-sports teams. The United States has a long tradition of combining sports and education. For example, colleges have had their own high-quality baseball teams for decades.
“In this sense, Finnish higher education institutions lack a competitive culture,” said Raitanen.
Toivonen and Raitanen believe that mastering e-sports in some form enables students to better profile their experience.
“This is also about meeting students in their areas of interest.”
HAMK Gaming Academy was presented at BitFest at HAMK 14 February.
HAMK surveyed students’ gaming habits
The majority, 81% of Häme University of Applied Sciences students play some kind of video games and 65% play daily or almost daily. The data is from HAMK’s October-November 2019 student survey. The purpose of the survey was to learn about students’ interest in e-sports, video games and the business aspect of e-sports.
75% of the respondents would be interested or potentially interested in taking part in an e-sports business module if one was available.
“It is worth noting that more than one third of the respondents who do not play any video games themselves would also be interested or potentially interested in studying e-sports,” said Eveliina Toivonen, a senior lecturer in business administration.
A total of 272 people responded to the survey, which is four percent of the total number of degree students at HAMK. In the survey, all PC, console and mobile games were considered video games. The results of the survey will be used to plan HAMK’s e-sports activities and study opportunities.
A link to the study will be published shortly.