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Ahyeon Polytechnic High School Pioneers esports as Academic Discipline

Ahyeon Polytechnic High School in South Korea has pioneered the idea of esports as an academic discipline.
The course was the brainchild of Bang Seung-ho, who started 10 years ago as a counselor and is now the principal of the school, which teaches courses from cookery to music and design.
He was sick, he said, of seeing kids, especially boys, turning up late and half asleep, resentful and swearing at their teachers, because they had spent much of the night playing video games. So he decided to bring the internet cafe to the school and video games into the classroom.
When Bang started out, people dismissed him as eccentric and many parents viewed the course as a waste of time. Even today, there are plenty of cynics, but Bang said they are coming around to the idea of esports as a way of channeling their children’s interests and abilities — and as a pathway to a career.
“People poked their fingers at me, but I knew this was a space the students needed,” Bang Seung-ho said.
The huge incomes on offer for professional gamers definitely help sell the idea. But there is another side for this. In April, the World Health Organisation included “gaming disorder” for the first time among its International Classification of Diseases, defining it as gaming taking “precedence over other life interests and daily activities.”
“Students don’t really get addicted to gaming itself. It’s more that they seek shelter in gaming to run away from reality, when they fall short of parental expectations for academic achievement, or when they get bullied in school,” he said.
“Students used to react angrily when we told them to turn off their game at the end of each session. But with counseling and guidance, students gradually learned to control the duration of their game time,” he added.

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