Ottawa high school to offer esports class

For some teenagers, earning school credit for playing video games may sound like fantasy. For a group of students at one Ottawa high school, it's about to become reality.

Starting Tuesday, the Centre professionel et technique Minto, a school at La Cité's Ottawa campus that prepares students for careers in the trades, will be teaching students how to best play video games.

Competitive video-gaming, also known as esports, has millions of fans around the globe and professional players of such games as League of Legends and StarCraft can earn six-figure salaries.  

The school knows it will come under fire for offering the course, but says the 17 students currently enrolled will be learning valuable skills needed to land jobs in the emerging esports market.

Not just 'kids in front of a screen'

"We are being ambitious and audacious for our students," said Eugenie Congi, the superintendent of education for the Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est.

"We seize opportunities to enhance the curriculum in developing skills needed in the 21st century, for the fourth industrial revolution."

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Congi said educators have a "moral imperative" to prepare students for the evolving employment market.

"It's our moral imperative as professional educators to ensure that our students have access," she said.

"It's not just about kids in front of a screen gaming all day — it's more complex than that." 

The course also will teach students about healthy sleeping patterns, and they'll be required to participate in physical activity, Congi said 

"We will be talking a lot about online addiction and the need for auto-regulation," she added. 

Violent video games will not be part of the course, Congi said. 

"The games will teach creativity, collaboration and character-building, using psycho-social skills and not just exerting their thumbs," she said.

The board is also hoping the course will encourage some students to stay in school until graduation, and help them realize there are job opportunities in a field they enjoy.