The Local spoke to adult education centre Strömbäcks Folkhögskola on Wednesday about its plans to launch a one-year course in e-sports, focusing on the popular Counter Strike franchise.
“We went to another school in Norway where they had a similar course and thought it seemed like a good idea for us too. Part of our job as educators is to be where the people are, and this is incredibly huge at the moment,” said course administrator Johan Ågren.
Students will be eligible to apply for financial aid via state-funded student aid agency CSN. And although the school admits that some critics have argued the computer gaming course is a waste of tax money, Ågren says that most of the reactions have been positive since the story began spreading in Sweden.
“Those in the industry are very happy that this is starting,” he said.
Esports and competitive gaming have been growing rapidly in the past few years with tournaments played in huge arenas and broadcast to millions of viewers worldwide.
But despite tech-savvy Sweden being one of the dominating nations in the field and home to the world's largest digital festival, Dreamhack, this is believed to be the country's first higher education course for hopeful gaming professionals.
“In Sweden we like to think that we are the leader in everything, but that is perhaps to some extent self-appointed,” laughed Ågren. “But yes, it's high time for something like this.”
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Counter Strike, a wildly popular multi-player game, allows users to either take on the role of the terrorist or counter-terrorist, using guns, bombs and hostages to carry out or prevent a terror attack.
And Strömbäcks Folkhögskola hopes that its course, which will be in Swedish, will help create the next big champion on the stage of e-sports.
“We're going to choose those (prospective students) who are already good at it and want to become even better. At the same time, just like in any other sport, take football for example, there is a lot of competition out there,” said Ågren.
He adds that the course hopes to address a men-women imbalance in the competitive gaming industry, which he says is still dominated by male players despite the fields of IT, tech and startups attracting a growing number of women in gender-equal Sweden.
“We hope to get a good gender balance. We're not going to use quotas (…) but we will work hard to attract more women. There are no reasonable grounds why gaming should be so dominated by guys, we're not talking about powerlifting here,” he said.