Sunday, August 14, 2022

Esports & The Arts

When we bought a television and sound bar awhile back, we were asked if we wanted it for gaming and thought, why would we? I did not understand the importance gaming has in this new world. Graduating from board games and maybe tic-tac-toe on a scrap of paper we graduated to Pong which started in 1972. Then we were aware of the kids having computer games but did not participate ourselves. Keeping up is not so easy as you get older, but learning is what keeps me going.

I had never heard of the word Esports even though it has been around for years, until, I read an article in the July/August issue of Wired Magazine by Brendan I. Koerner. To my great surprise I learned that colleges have Esports teams. I happened to reach my son, Danny, driving my granddaughter, Lucy, to her college, Ohio State University (OSU). I asked him if he had ever heard of Esports teams, and he had not but Lucy piped up that they have one at OSU!

Koerner writes about Madison Marquer who was hired by Laramie County Community College (LCCC) a small college but the only institution of higher learning in Cheyenne, Wyoming. It has just 2,800 full time students, as opposed to over 65,000 at Lucy’s OSU. Richard Walsh an instructor in LCCC’s information-technology program seeing how important gaming was to the students set out to convince the administration how an Esport program could bring in more students and boost the brand to make the school more attractive to applicants. In his interview as a coach for the program Marquer made the case to the administration to show that an Esports team would give students the discipline and purpose to go on to richer lives. He also had to demonstrate how Esports actually was a sport by showing how dexterity, hand eye coordination and quick thinking were necessary to excel.

In an article in Hyperallergic by Jasmine Liu she passes on a quote from Oscar Wilde’s 1889 essay The Decay of Lying: “Life imitates art far more than art imitates life,” Here is one of several images shown in the article

From there it is not so far-fetched how art is linked in so many ways to other activities of life.

What might be the connection between Esports and arts education? The National Endowment for the Arts reports that more than 175 million adults engage with the arts through electronic media. Put that together with the benefits claimed for Esports:

-Improved hand-eye coordination.
-Improved attention & visual acuity.
-Improved basic visual processing and executive function.
-Problem solving & strategy skill development.
-71% of parents report gaming having net positive effects for children.
-Boosts self-confidence and player socialization.

All qualities that a good artist or art historian, for that matter, need to succeed.

Academy of Art University, founded in San Francisco in 1929, currently has around 8,000 students and they started an Esports program in 2016. They write, “Students from all areas of study at Academy of Art are given the opportunity to use their career skills in the Esports Studio Classes. Game Development, Communications, Music and Sound Design, Illustration, and many other majors all come together to produce live Esports productions and events, both online and in-person."

The world renowned Getty Museum has used Egames not only to attract visitors but also to make their visitor experience more engaging. In a collaboration with the University of Southern California (USC) in 2015, a group from their program created games to enhance the Museum experience. One such game, called “Switch” asks players to hunt through the galleries with their smartphones to break a magic spell that is switching details in the paintings. Remain in the Getty at home with egames on line that test your memory for what you saw. In this article a curator at the Getty brings the gamer a link to true art history.

In 2020 the Markets Insider published a press release announcing the world’s first-ever ‘Visioning Esports in Art’ Exhibition. Note to self: Keep Up!

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