ACES launches as the voice of esports higher education in the UK

ACES launches as the voice of esports higher education in the UK

ACES Executive Board Left to right: Vice chair Dr Russell Cowley, Dr William Darler, Michael Holley, vice chair LJ Filotrani, chair Dr Richard Oddy

The Association of Continuing Education for Esports (ACES) is a consortium of academics with the backing of industry leaders. The association aims to support and raise the profile of the discipline of esports across HE education in the UK.

Industry forecasters are predicting that esports will generate more than £1bn in global revenue by 2022. With an online global audience in 2019 reaching just under 500 million, the sector is also regularly filling stadiums with esports fans gathering at mega events. Spectator numbers are beginning to rival traditional sports tournaments such as the Super Bowl in the US – last year’s League Of Legends World Championship in South Korea attracted 99.6 million unique viewers for the live final for example.

“We are working very closely with industry professionals to strategically position ACES. With that said, a key objective for us as an association, is to benefit, connect and support all stakeholders. With the industry experiencing such exponential growth, ACES provides an essential platform to ensure this growth is sustainable long-term,” ACES vice chair, Dr Russell Cowley.

In the UK, 2019 has seen the launch of professional leagues, competitions, and partnerships between mainstream media and streaming platforms. We have had the first grand final of the British Esports Championships for schools and colleges concluding with winners across Rocket League, Overwatch and League Of Legends and the finals of the ePremiership League – a partnership between the English Premier League (EPL) and EAsports FIFA Series – marking an exciting convergence between real and digital sport. Seeing the potential markets in the UK, game developer Riot Games created a new league UKLC (UK League Championship) with esports organisation LVP (League of Videogame Professionals), designed to bridge the gap between amateur and professional League Of Legends players.

As the esports ecosystem in the UK rapidly establishes itself, the education sector is trying to work out how best to service the needs of this nascent industry.

“ACES is responding to feedback from esports professionals regarding the disconnect between curricula and the skills, knowledge and practice needed to service the growing esports ecosystem. More research and greater transparency between the sector and educators is vital to ensure future sustainability,”ACES chair, Dr Richard Oddy.

Positioning itself as the voice of esports education in the UK the aims of ACES are: to provide support and guidance to esports educators, to support and raise the profile of the esports discipline through the sharing of education, industry and best practice, to drive and disseminate esports research and to provide a platform to connect industry with academia.

“Esports is such an exciting field of study particularly in my area – broadcast media – not only are we seeing new roles in journalism being established but we are also seeing the boundaries of broadcasting being tested, pushed and redefined on streaming platforms.

“One of the aims of ACES is to match these developments in terms of skills needed for these new roles of employment and to translate these needs driven by industry to curricula – ultimately positioning ACES as the official body for accreditation of esports education in the UK.

“Our first task is to compile a directory of esports researchers, industry professionals and courses, with a view of facilitating connections and sharing best practice,” ACES vice chair, LJ Filotrani.

The Association launches with a call to action for anyone interested in the direction of esports education and research in the UK to join the ACES directory.