All around the world, esport has been growing for the last ten years. This economic field had a turnover estimated around $1,1bn in 2019, for a global audience of 495 million people. Surfing on the wave of this new business, many gaming schools opened in France. Are they real keys for students or an heartless profit machine?
The Paris Gaming School from Montreuil, the Digital Gaming School from Bordeaux, the Hélios Gaming School (HGS) from Freyming-Merlebach, in Moselle, the Montpellier Talent Players, the Power House Gaming from Mulhouse, and so many others emerged since 2016 with the structuration of the Esport in France. At this time, Thibaut just had his 4 A Levels. With the agreement of his parents, he decided to join the first class of the HGS in 2017. A Good student, he become top of his class. "I wanted to enter in the parent company to become able to live from esport. And that's what happened, because today I'am project manager at Helios Gaming (the event company of the group)". Thibaut is the perfect example of the danger that represents the gaming schools. Here, the best student of the class only managed to get a place in the group of his school. Few calls from his teachers and it was done. But what about the rest of the year group??
An easy target for a very lucrative business
Gaming schools are using a dishonest mechanism to make profit on the back of a fragile audience. Don't forget that their aim are the students, for their first year in higher education. These young people are, most of the time, totally lost. What do they really want to study ? What profession for their futur ? They have many existential questions and it's completely normal ! All they know, is that they have a passion : video games. Sometimes they do pretty good games on Fortnite or Rainbow Six Siege and they follow all the professional competitions on Youtube or Twitch. However, the gaming schools use this situation to make them trust in the dream that one day, they will be a professional esport player. And it's far from safe for the students.
First of all, because these courses cost a lot. In France, students have to pay around €10,000. The gaming schools justify these hight prices by saying that they provide advanced esport equipment (gaming house, big computers, comfortable gaming armchair...) and very important people from esport (professional players, head-coach, managers...). Many students who have done these courses agree with that. But all the students can't pay this amount. Even more when we know that there is none of these courses recognized by the state. Which means that the Ministry of Higher Education does not yet admit the real added value of the gaming schools.
Esport offers few professional opportunities
The second reason comes from the reality of the esport statement. According to France Esports, around 500 students would leave the gaming schools each year while a maximum of 1,000 people would live actually from e-sport. "In 2018, there were 180 players contracted with structures in France. And all of theme doesn't receive income that allows them to live. There were less than 100 with income above the French minimum wage" , confides Nicolas Besombes, vice-president of France Esports, to the French newspaper Le Monde.
In comparison, in 2018, the French Federation of Football (FFF) specified that from 10% to 20% of the players in training center sign a pro contract. Which means that from the 300 to 400 young players who joined a training formation each year, only 75 access the professional circuit when they leave. These stats show that the dream of the student become rurally true. For example, this year, from the twenty students of the Paris Gaming School, only three of them become cyber-athletes.
To conclude, gaming schools taught courses very appreciated from all the video games addicts. From 10 months to 3 years, the students train themselves on a game to become the best. Even if they will probably never become professional player, there are many others professions around esport (event, commercial, technicians, analysts, casters...) which could be accessible by working from their own. The students who well-known how esport is working will be appreciate as an esport journalists for example.
But most of the time, esport schools represents a real trap for the students who choose to join them. These young people paid a lot to finally get into the workforce without any professional skills. Advice for the parent : try to get informations from guidance counsellors even if, most of the time, they don't know the gaming schools.