Childrenâ€™s library esports pilot scheme
FEEDBACK & LEARNINGS
Childrenâ€™s library esports pilot scheme
The idea is to promote, inspire and help improve esports in the UK, to make children more aware of it and create future champions and talent in the future.
THE PILOT SCHEME WHAT WAS IT?
A pilot scheme esports club for children, organised in conjunction with Westminster City Council and DinoPC. It took place in a dedicated room at Maida Vale library for two hours every Tuesday. It ran across four weeks, from June 20th to July 11th. The idea was to bring in 10 different children each week from local schools, aged 8 to 14, and give them a taster session on esports, including games of Rocket League, coaching, casting and journalism sessions, followed by a Q&A. Each child received a certificate,
T-shirt and cap after the event. From the pilot we can help other schools and libraries roll out their own esports clubs for children in the future. The idea is to promote, inspire and help improve esports in the UK, to make children more aware of it and create future champions and talent in the future.
Children’s library esports pilot scheme
‘There is a real demand for kids’ regular esports clubs in UK schools & libraries’ Feedback from British Esports’ Dominic Sacco
It’s clear the four-week pilot was a resounding success. In week one, we had four children show up. But by the end of the four weeks, we were having to turn children and parents away as all the slots were full. Weeks two and three were very busy, with 12+ children and a handful of parents and teachers visiting. It was a full house. We had a mix of children, aged around 8 to 14. In terms of the core content and activity, I have never seen a library so lively in all my life. It’s the loudest I’ve ever heard a library, but in a good way – the children were really getting into the Rocket League matches, discussing tactics and cheering at key moments, for example when a crucial goal was scored. Surprisingly, the children showed a keen interest in casting. Having British casters Harry “DocDa” Evans and Ryan “Flakes” Oliver on hand to teach the children was very valuable indeed, and kids soon picked up on casting techniques.
Whenever I had a free spare minutes, I would show any extra children how to use the microphone and camera to record footage and encouraged the children to interview one another. We also took time to teach children about coaching, and for the busier days assigned each team a captain, who was responsible for instructing and motivating players, and coming up with strategies to beat the opposing team. While the idea was to have 10 different children each week, what we noticed was that a handful of children were coming back every week. They enjoyed the weekly experience. By the end of week four, one boy, Reuben, was pulling away from the rest of the pack. He scored nine goals in one game and showed a keen interest in the whole experience. This goes to show that there is a real demand for a weekly or regular club at other libraries or schools in the UK.
Children’s library esports pilot scheme
It was great to have some juice and fruit available for children throughout the sessions, this also promoted healthy eating and the fact that esports should be done in moderation as part of a healthy lifestyle.
Some things to think about when hosting a regular club would be to plan out the activities across the weeks and months, so for example you could have one session focusing solely on casting, then another week where the children could record their own commentary. You could even have a local tournament over a term, so playing at least a couple of matches each week. Another thing to be mindful of is sign-ups and parent permission forms. There was some miscommunication between British Esports and the library as to how many children were turning up each week, and I don’t think it was made clear to the children that their parents needed to sign permission forms so we could use photos and videos etc. However, that won’t be a problem for any clubs in schools that may not be publishing photos and videos anyway. Some challenges included downloading Steam/game updates on time, tweaking the firewall to allow access to Steam and getting the kids out on time, and leaving time (around 20 mins-30mins) to pack everything including the systems away. The sessions were very inclusive. We had children and volunteers with learning disabilities. However, it’s worth noting all the participants were male, it would have been nice to encourage more girls to take part in the future. There are two big obstacles schools and libraries will have in setting their own clubs up: internet and systems.
We had problems getting internet fast enough to handle the action. Westminster’s outsourced IT team kindly set up a separate WiFi connection, which they managed to get working as the first children literally walked into the room. I would recommend any school or library should have fiber broadband for an esports club. Anything less and you may experience choppy and inefficient gameplay/streaming. The other challenge is securing systems. DinoPC kindly agreed to come on board as a system provider for the pilot scheme, providing decent PCs, monitors, keyboards, mice and headsets (ten of each in total). We also secured some controllers and printed off the button controls for each child, as Rocket League is a game that works best with controllers over keyboard and mice. All of these logistics should obviously be set up and tested before any club is announced. Elsewhere, it was great to have some juice and fruit available for children throughout the sessions, this also promoted healthy eating and the fact that esports should be done in moderation as part of a healthy lifestyle. Finally, we had some good coverage from the scheme, with the likes of Esports Insider, Gamasutra, Pocket Gamer, Ginx TV, Al Jazeera, the Evening Standard and others covering the esports club.
SIX KEY TAKEAWAYS
1. The scheme needs pretty fast stable broadband
Rob Allen British Esports
2. Systems should be checked 24 hours before a session
internet (with no bandwidth restrictions on connections)
starts, to make sure they are updated and ready to play. Finding out two hours before we’re meant to kick off that Rocket League had a 2.4GB update on the library internet connection was not good.
3. Once we gave kids free reign on what they could do
on the PCs, as Rocket League wasn’t working, it was hard to get their attention again.
4. Let’s get higher quality print on the caps. 5. The kids really enjoyed the club, it promoted teamwork. 6. The sessions helped some kids come out of their shell.
‘Paddington Academy has deep connections with the games industry’
‘This has created a new and exciting opportunity for libraries’
‘I can foresee other local authorities introducing similar clubs’
Andy Payne OBE, Chair, British Esports Association and Patron, GamesAid
Nick Fuller, Tri-borough Libraries Children’s Services Manager, Schools Library Service, Maida Vale Library
Philip Baker, Westminster City Council Comms
“It was great to have so many students from the Paddington Academy take part in this Maida Vale library esports pilot.
“The new initiative between The British Esports Association and Westminster Libraries has created a new and exciting opportunity for libraries to engage with young people in our community.
“This was a fun and forward-thinking way of ensuring children could train in esports and see the potential to have an esports career.
The Paddington Academy has very deep connections with the video games industry. Back in 2004, the industry via the Entertainment Software Charity, which became GamesAid, was the lead sponsor of Paddington Academy. “It raised £1.5m - which triggered £15m of government match funding for Paddington - which was itself a pilot.”
It offers children a new and exciting experience, which is not only popular and fun, but also develops important skills for children such as their strategic skills, emphasizing the need for teamwork and making computer gaming more social. It gives the children involved the opportunity to mix with other children from different schools and backgrounds. The initiative will help to raise the profile of libraries to young people and a wider audience that libraries are a community space, offering new, exciting and fun activities that many would not associate with libraries. The Library Service is hoping that the partnership with British Esports will grow and that the esports offer can continue and be rolled out to more libraries, envisioning thriving leagues and competitions in libraries and across the service.”
The pilot proved popular and drew in local children to use library services. The skills and experience they gained in terms of team work, performance skills and strategic thinking could be transferred across into physical sports and their school work. I can foresee other local authorities introducing similar clubs.”
We believe the educational aspects of what the British Esports Association aims to achieve are highly beneficial to children and younger audiences.
London-based system builder DinoPC provided the PCs and accessories for the pilot scheme. With DinoPC signing up, it shows that other PC retailers and system providers may be willing to supply equipment to their own local schools and libraries. DinoPC marketing manager Nic Carnelutti (pictured) helped to get everything running smoothly, providing eight systems plus a separate workstation with two monitors, allowing two other children to cast the matches on Twitch each time. Nic said: “We believe the educational aspects of what the British Esports Association aims to achieve are highly beneficial to children and younger audiences. “This scheme encourages young people to learn teamwork and participate in a challenge - building up their social skills which can then be used in other aspects of life. “They couldn’t have decided on a better choice of game either. Rocket League emphasizes each of the aforementioned traits and remains enjoyable throughout. We are very proud to support this event and be part of this from the very beginning.” In a blog post, DinoPC added: “During the months of June & July Dino PC partnered with Westminster Council and the British Esports Association for an educational pilot scheme geared towards children and younger audiences.
“Designed to improve the wellbeing and social interactions between children as well as those with an interest in competitive gaming, the event encouraged teamwork, challenge and skill, using esports as the fundamental tool for teaching. As a non-profit organization the British Esports Association specializes in educational events and social schemes for children, across various schools and venues throughout London. “Using the popular video game Rocket League for the purposes of this event, children were provided with a series of talks, assistance and guidance, with those such as Dominic Sacco and Rob Allen being present throughout the entire duration of the event providing training and information. “Ensuring the audience is equipped with the highest performing gaming systems, DinoPC have built a new range of systems that have been specifically tweaked and tested as to deliver consistent and reliable gameplay that’s great for Rocket League. As a critically-acclaimed title with numerous awards and great gameplay experiences, DinoPC approves of the chosen game.”
‘It’s important to have a clear plan for each session’
‘The children were really immersed and competitive’
It’s important organisers have a clear plan for each day and knowing what is going to happen next at all times, so that whoever is running the day doesn’t have to wing it as much as we did.
The pilot scheme promoted teamwork and after a short while the children began to display this teamwork by calling out ideas and plays.
It’s also important that the people running the event are familiar with how to set up lobbies in Rocket League and how if one person accidentally joins a team the game will start automatically. But I suppose Rocket League wouldn’t be the only game in the future so the technical side of setting up lobbies and such will apply to whatever game that is being run. Thanks again for running this pilot scheme and giving me an opportunity to get some experience working in esports.
Also they began acting and reacting like a team, for instance, when one of them scored they congratulated the person for scoring. The children really enjoyed playing Rocket League. And the way they learnt about casting and interviewing meant in the session they came away with the perfect amount of information. Participants were really immersed into the action and became really competitive. I will say the internet needs to be better, because some of the computers were lagging so the children were struggling to play Rocket League. Club organisers should also check if Rocket League has an update the day before, otherwise there isn’t enough time to download it just before the club session starts.
‘More structure could help’
‘Why not include games that can be played offline?’
It went really well, however I thought there could have been more structure to it. Also in the fourth week we didn’t anticipate a Rocket League update, so we had to improvise and come up with other things for the children to do.
I’d say organisers should try to include games that can be played offline when possible, for example Smash Bros can be a really good one, and the characters are recognisable. I remember when I was at primary school, the teacher’s computer had a button that could lock all the others. Having an override in place could be worthwhile to prevent children from playing when they’re not supposed to, i.e. we’re trying to set stuff up. Also, maybe we could have done with more of a structure, it felt a bit loose.
WHAT DID THE CHILDREN THINK, AND WHAT DID THEY LEARN?
“It was great, we learnt about team play, casting and general video game knowledge.” Joshua, 14, Paddington Academy
“I think it was extremely fun and I really enjoyed casting and working with my team to win. Commentating is fun, Rocket League is fun – we had to work as a team to score. I will absolutely love to do this again 1000%.” Mohammed Badamasi, 13, Paddington Academy
“It was really competitive – I learnt how to use a controller. I’d like to try a different game next time.” Abdulahi, 13, Paddington Academy
“It was epic. I learn about teamwork. I had so much fun!”
Carmac, 9, St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School
“The experience was great and I would come back. I learnt about teamwork and responsibility.” Fadel, 10, Essindine Primary School
“It was awesome. [I learnt about] leadership.” Tyrel Allen, 13, Paddington Academy
“The session was great, it improved my communication and teamwork skills, and my confidence.” Ali, 11, Paddington Academy
Jake, 8, Ark Attwood Primary Academy
“Fun and exciting. [I learnt about] teamwork and trust.” Gabriel, 8, Ark Attwood Primary Academy
“It was a great experience, we did a lot of casting and playing and I picked up new skills. I would like to do this often.” Malaki Hercules-Walker, 12, Paddington Academy
“I really enjoyed getting used to the game. I learnt it’s better to boost than jump to gain speed. I would love it if this was a [regular] club.” Amauri Fenton Hines, 10, Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Primary School
“I thought it was very enjoyable.”
Matheus, 11, St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School
“It was great because we learned different things about esports.” Reuben Hawthorne, 12, Paddington Academy
Half of those who took part said they learnt about teamwork
100% of the children that took part in the pilot scheme said they would like to do this again, either at their own school or at a similar event in their area.
Children that took part ranged from 8 to 14 years old
HOW WE MARKETED THE PILOT
The pilot scheme received coverage from the following:
Westminster helped with this. There was promotion on social media, flyers placed in schools and word of mouth spread with parents and teachers.
• Gamasutra • Esports Insider • Pocket Gamer • Evening Standard • Ginx TV - Daily Download • Al Jazeera • Press TV in Iran • Associated Press
PILOT STRUCTURE • Two teams • Two kids on caster workstation • Two kids coaching & then rotate between games • Intro - 5mins • Warm up session - 20mins • Show kids how to use casting work station at start (play by play and colour casters) - 5mins • 10 minute matches x5 • Drink break after 1 hour / mix up teams - 5mins • Parents vs kids - 10mins • 1v1s • Winding down and interviews and hand out certificates - 10mins • Q&A SOME GROUND RULES WE SET FOR THE CLUB • If you have a question, ask a mem ber of the team • If you need the toilet, try and go when there’s a break in between games • No running • Don’t start a game until we’ve given the signal/we’ve let you know • After games, take your headphones off so you can listen to us • Work with your team and have fun
Weâ€™ll take the learnings from this to help other schools and libraries run their own esports clubs in the future. We will provide them with packs containing information on the pilot and how they can run their own clubs. The idea is to better educate Britain regarding the value of esports, and to show parents, teachers and children there are viable career paths within the industry. By targeting children from a younger age, we are looking at the bigger long-term picture with the goal of creating more British esports champions and talent in the future. We can also present our findings to the Government to show them the value of esports in a bid to secure potential funding for grassroots esports in the future. Contact email@example.com