The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) has added esports to its range of activity programmes for young people aged 14 to 24 in the UK.
To be recognised as a DofE Skills activity, esports must take place through an ‘organised and structured adult-led group’, such as a school or college enrichment club.
To achieve their Bronze, Silver or Gold DofE Awards, young people choosing esports will also participate in a range of other activities.
In addition to developing a new skill, they will also need to volunteer for a cause they believe in, undertake a physical challenge, plan and complete an adventurous expedition with their peers and, for Gold only, go on a residential trip with people they’ve never met before.
In a press release, the DofE mentioned this announcement being made on the eve of World Esports Day, which Esports News UK is running a Twitch stream for on October 23rd from 6pm BST.
Before launching esports, the DofE conducted a pilot in seven UK schools and colleges ‘to gauge esports’ suitability’. This found that playing esports helps young people develop skills such as strategic thinking, communication, leadership and teamwork while also helping to develop self-esteem and build organisational and social skills.
In particular, 70% of respondents said that playing esports helps them learn to set and rise to challenges, while 75% said that playing esports helps them to develop their social skills.
In a separate Censuswide survey of more than 1,000 senior business leaders in UK companies, commissioned by the DofE, eight out of 10 said they would be open to employing young people who have gained transferable skills from esports such as IT, communications and team building.
Also, 71% said they could see the educational value of esports, indicating how competitive gaming could help improve future careers. This research was conducted from August 25th to September 10th 2021.
The DofE’s CEO, Ruth Marvel, said: “Esports is one of the fastest growing activities in the UK and helps young people develop essential skills. DofE has a proud history of evolving our programmes to reflect the changing interests and needs of young people, so I’m delighted that, following a successful pilot, we’ve added esports to the DofE Skills list.
“DofE is all about helping young people develop themselves, so they have the skills and confidence to make the most of whatever life throws at them. Setting yourself challenges and mastering new skills is core to the DofE experience and esports provides a structured and safe way to do this, while also being a lot of fun.”
The likes of Queen Mary’s College, Alva Academy and East Norfolk Sixth Form College are getting involved with the DofE esports programmes, and the British Esports Association has applauded the announcement.
Devereaux, a student at Alva Academy, said: “It’s not just about playing games – you get to meet new people, you get to be competitive, you get a sense of achievement, you have to work on your teamwork skills but whilst doing it as a skill, so I think it’s great that now it’s been added.”
The DofE was set up by The Duke of Edinburgh in 1956. Since then, 6.7m young people have taken part and 3.1m have achieved their award.
There’s more info on the DofE.org website.
Dom is an award-winning writer who graduated from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 degree in Multi-Media Journalism in 2007.
As a long-time gamer having first picked up the NES controller in the late ’80s, he has written for a range of publications including GamesTM, Nintendo Official Magazine, industry publication MCV as well as Riot Games and others. He worked as head of content for the British Esports Association up until February 2021, when he stepped back to work full-time on Esports News UK and as an esports consultant helping brands and businesses better understand the industry.