A new breed of professional esports players could soon be taking shape in Norway thanks to a high school that’s offering a three-year course in competitive gaming.
Garnes High School created the course after seeing the growth of the esports industry, and the amount of time and effort teenagers devote to esports.
“We believe this [esports] deserves to be taken more seriously, and want to offer our pupils the possibility of combining an esports training program with formal schooling qualifications,” says Petter Grahl Johnstad, the school’s science department manager.
While the course runs for three years, students will only be required to do five hours of study per week as part of their 30-hour overall course load. They will work closely with coaches that have in-depth knowledge of the games, focusing on mechanics, strategy, tactics, teamwork, and theories about the motivations of professional players and how teams work.
Students will get Skype lessons from professional players, as well as visits from players in Norway, and will attend esports tournaments to see how they work. As part of the curriculum, students will also create teams to participate in local tournaments.
To improve their reaction time, reflexes, and general body strength, students will undergo special training and exercises. This is in addition to their regular physical education class.
“The pupils will learn that a focus on athletic abilities serves as a foundation for esports success,” says Johnstad. “You cannot succeed at a high level in esports without being in good physical shape. Nutrition is another important focus area in this regard.”
Students will also be required to progress through the game in their own time, with a special game room available during the day and evening, decked out with high-powered computers, G-Sync monitors, and Akracing chairs.
As in the school’s normal courses, students will have to take exams and will receive grades. The school has experience running football and handball classes, and will follow the same procedures for the esports students. This includes evaluating their communication, technical abilities, and a theoretical understanding of lifestyle elements like nutrition.
“We believe that there are a number of abilities obtained or improved by esports,” says Johnstad. “Including the ability to cooperate, the ability to communicate, mastery of tactics, and mastery of strategy—that are readily transferred to other activities. We also hope that the enthusiasm generated by our esports classes will serve to give youth a more positive attitude toward education in general.”
The long-term goal of the course is to create a team that can compete in the professional scene—either within Norway, or internationally—within a few years of the student’s graduation.
Registrations for the course are open until March 1. Johnstad said the school has had a lot of interest in the course so far—locally, nationally, and internationally—but didn’t mention how many people have registered.