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Digital Skills Academy looks to e-sports as next success story

Photos by Johnny Bugeja

By Eva De Vincenzi
The Gibraltar Digital Skills Academy hopes their e-sports summer camp will be their next success story, after a summer camp last week saw young gamers sharpen their skills.

The camp focuses on team building, communication skills and creating a positive gaming environment.

It is driven and structured by the Gibraltar Esports and Video Gaming Association (GEVGA) but led primarily by Stewart Harrison, Founding Trustee of the Gibraltar Digital Skills Academy.

Mr Harrison has already seen success having led teams of young Gibraltarians to the finals of CyberCenturion challenge as Team Leader, with a team taking the top prize in 2016.

“I want this to be the next success story,” he said.

He explained that this success will come with expanding the gaming community outside of Gibraltar and opening the youngsters’ eyes to the bigger picture.

“It is easy to become a big fish in a small pond,” he said.

To share his own experiences with competitive international e-sports was Dean Penfold, who represented Gibraltar in e-Football at the inaugural Commonwealth E-sports Championships, where he made it to the finals.

The Academy hopes that Gibraltar’s past and prospective successes in e-sports will help to remove the negative connotations surrounding it, especially with parents.

Mr Harrison said that organised gaming is just as beneficial as any other extra-curriculars, as it promotes a daily structure and teaches children how to take criticisms from coaches as seen in football or basketball training.

There is also a firm safety policy at the Academy, as coaches took a course at the University of Gibraltar with insight into children’s relationship with gaming in order to prevent addiction while encouraging a regular sleep schedule and healthy diet.

He also elaborated on how e-sports can open career paths into computer technology, with many youngsters showing interest in coding, graphic design and programming.

Already, the Academy has grown through their social media accounts and Esports competitions.

Next week, for example, they are hosting a FIFA knockout tournament in Boyd’s, in partnership with Frequency and Esports Gibraltar.

Though he understands that it is a “hard sell”, Mr Harrison sees a bright future for competitive gaming in Gibraltar, with events such as these only promoting their cause further.

Eva De Vincenzi is a student on work experience with the Chronicle.

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