Electronic sports competitions are coming to high schools because of start-up PlayVS
After decades of parents and teachers alike campaigning to keep video games and sometimes even devices like phones away from schools and classrooms, one start-up wants to head in the opposite direction. The US start-up PlayVS wants to change the relationship between US high schools and esports.
How? By turning the competitive gaming scene into a legitimate school sport. PlayVS’ CEO said that electronic sports competition will have a lot of similarities to traditional college and professional work. This is certainly already the case, what with esports being on the cusp of joining the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
When it comes to acceptance in high schools, things aren’t yet looking so rosy. Schools are still wary of games in general, which is why PlayVS was founded. The esports platform for high school competitions, recently secured $15 million in funding from New Enterprise Associates, the San Francisco 49ers, rap star Nas, and even Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin. The round values the company at $50 million, according to ESPN.
That’s a pretty impressive sum and an equally impressive list of supporters for the start-up. Esports are definitely an issue that’s close to many people’s hearts these days, so it’s great to see that progress is being made in getting esports the acknowledgement it deserves.
PlayVS has partnered with the NFHS, the National Federation of State High School Associations in order to make this a reality. The NFHS publishes the playing rules for sports in 50 of the 51 member states of the US. It is also responsible for setting the rules for fine art programs in speech, theater, debate and music.
Thanks to PlayVS, students are soon going to be able to compete against each other in the context of esports at school. The new platform is going to provide software and help schools define the rules for students to compete in. This means that there will be a conscious selection of appropriate games and software titles as well as rules of conduct to prevent abusive or toxic games.
Students will form teams in order to compete against each other, and even faculty can get involved. The ultimate idea here is that eventually colleges will be able to reach out in order to scout skilled players for their esports varsity teams and programs. There are already plenty of US (and international) colleges that have these esports teams, and many of them are incredibly popular and spots are just as sought after as they may be on the football team.
The first preseason for this new program will start this October. It will see students finding teams and competing in low-stake matches in order to test the waters as it were. The regular season will last from October until December, where states will be split into four conferences with weekly competitions. Then there will be playoffs in January, where top teams from each of the four conferences compete against each other.
What for? For a place in the state championship of course. PlayVS is really going all out with this new program. “We’ve always had this concept,” said PlayVS CEO Delane Parnell recently. “If esports are going to grow, it’s going to mirror traditional sports in some ways. There are going to be a lot of similarities.”