Nintendo UK have partnered with Digital Schoolhouse to run two new student-focused esports events in 2023: the DSH Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Team Battle, and the Junior Tournament.
These events are part of a long-running initiative between the two companies, seeking to engage more school-age children in computing by giving them an idea of the career options out there, particularly in the world of esports.
Fun For All Ages
2023’s will be the 6th installment in the DSH Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Team Battle. This programme, open to students aged 12-18, is a combination of an esports tournament and an immersive esports education experience. Pupils will learn about the world of esports through lessons and workshops, running their own tournaments to whittle down the participants to just 3 ahead of a grand, inter-school final.
For younger children, the Junior Tournament offers an early taste of the esports experience, seeing competitors aged 8-11 battle it out across a range of popular Nintendo Switch games, including Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and, as of this year, Just Dance 2022.
Laughing and Learning
In addition to providing a fun experience for students, these programmes have a loftier goal in mind; to use student esports as a gateway into an academic interest in computing. And based on research carried out by Digital Schoolhouse, they seem to be working.
2018’s Esports: Engaging Education report, based on an earlier Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Team Tournament, saw a 40% increase in the number of participants interested in studying computing, alongside an increase in student confidence, with 75% saying their communication skills had improved, and 79% saying their team building skills improved, both as a result of the programme.
This success translated into real results as well. In the 2021 Junior Esports Pilot Evaluation Report, 100% of teachers noted that their students were more motivated to learn computing as a result of the programme, while 55% said that their pupils performed better in the subject than in other areas after taking part.
Partners in Crime
Both Digital Schoolhouse and Nintendo are hugely enthusiastic about this new duo of student esports programmes for 2023. Shahneila Saeed, Director at Digital Schoolhouse and Head of Education at Ukie, said:
“Children and young people can’t aspire to jobs they don’t know about. Our tournaments are immersive careers education experiences with a twist that year on year have demonstrable impact on individual students lives. We’re thrilled to be launching the DSH Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Team Battle again and expanding the Junior Tournament, with the support of our partners we hope this year we will reach more schools and pupils than ever before.”
Nintendo UK have similar thoughts, with their Head of Communications Kalpesh Tailor noting:
“We are thrilled to continue our partnership with Ukie’s Digital Schoolhouse as lead partner for the fourth year running. Both programmes uniquely combine fun, creativity and innovation, all of which are at the heart of Nintendo’s values. This academic year we hope to see many more smiles from each of the students taking part.”
While at one point in time it was unthinkable that schools would teach lessons on games and esports, the existence of programmes like these show that education is catching up with the times, giving students the best chance of success in our rapidly evolving world.