It’s such a heartwarming piece to follow up on Centennial School’s esports scholarship which was awarded to three South African students, after the past two weekends that saw 30 young gamers battle it out in an esports competition with the hopes of winning the first of three esport school scholarships ever to be awarded in South Africa.
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he challenges were nothing like the traditional digital sports, shooters or racing but instead were age-appropriate titles comprised of Minecraft Spiral Parkour, Overcooked 2 and relative games that were spruced up with objectives that students had to meet within a specific amount of time. As simple as that may seem for an average gamer with years of experience, it’s a completely different wheelhouse for an 11 to 13-year-old that is demanded to develop approaches within:
- Developing Creativity – Activities that promote creativity help increase intellectual and cognitive development. This can promote the development of multiple thinking skills and also allows kids to express themselves through a productive and creative outlook.
- Problem-solving – Whilst Minecraft provides awareness regarding survival and logistics for children, who then have to overcome the challenges with innovative solutions. Overcooked 2 invites a different approach through means of Verbal communication through a cooperative experience via online multiplayer. Whilst the online gaming sphere itself can be a dangerous and toxic space, especially for minors, the game level-up mechanics, role-play for characters in a fictitious setting and social factors of beating the rival and building relationships presents a desire for kids on beating the game itself.
- Concentration – Projects take hours or days to complete, and players need to have the patience to stick through the hours with commitment. Long periods of practised focused attention are what assist students in studying, comprehending things, developing strong memories, and focusing on tasks that help them navigate through meaningless and irrelevant thoughts.
The finale took place on Saturday, 11 March with the students being put through their gaming paces to get to the final round which saw the prospective winners play Minecraft at the school’s esports centre, administered and observed by RGB Gaming in world-class gaming kits provided by Cooler Master.
Grade 6 student Thomas Williams won the first esports competition on the continent and a scholarship to Centennial Schools valued at R300,000. Jordan Harris, a grade 8 and existing Centennial Schools student, took second place, while grade 8 gamer Oluseeni Olusa placed third, both walking away with R200,000 and R150,000 worth of scholarships and prizes respectively from leading gaming brand Cooler Master and gaming hardware provider ASUS.
Nkuli Gamede, Principal of Centennials School, said the competition was closely fought by very talented gamers who have bright futures ahead of them.
“This is the first time a competition like this has been held in South Africa and it certainly was a tough competition. We were pleasantly surprised at the calibre and variety of gamers who entered the competition, and these gamers have set the benchmark for what we can expect in the local gaming scene in future. Esports is an inclusive sport compared to many others, with boys and girls able to play on the same teams and participants coming from various social groups and demographics.”
“I gave my absolute best during the competition, and pushed myself to not give up. The competition was challenging, but I enjoyed every minute, and feel that I am leaving a more experienced gamer,” said 12-year-old Thomas Williams. “My grandfather used to hide barrels from me when I was young, so perhaps that gave me a slight edge in Minecraft. I am super excited to start my scholarship at Centennial Schools.”
Founder and CEO of Centennial Schools, Shaun Fuchs, explains the reasoning behind the competition, stating, “esports is incorporated into our re-imagined approach to education as it teaches students valuable skills beyond the classroom.”
Not only is esports a fun way of learning, Fuchs says, but research shows that children who play video games have a much better chance of navigating through complex psychological issues compared to those that do not actively participate in video games.
In addition, playing video games can make students keener and more employable across a wider spectrum of careers including medical fields, engineering, remote flying and computer sciences. “Esports can boost children’s strategic thinking, teamwork, communication, leadership, performance skills and confidence building,” said Fuchs.
The scholarships are in partnership with BRUSA Sports, an organisation which assists aspiring young athletes to get hold of scholarships in the USA.
Article written by Smilo “Slim” Gosa