GameSeta is bringing esports to B.C. high schools


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When you think of secondary-school sports, games like volleyball and soccer no doubt come to mind. You probably don’t think of League of Legends, but GameSeta would like to change that.

The Vancouver-based company is the brainchild of recent Simon Fraser University grads Tawanda Masawi and Rana Taj. GameSeta provides support and a web-based platform for coaches and students looking to form esports teams and organize tournaments.

GameSeta’s founders seem particularly well-positioned to provide both the logistical and technical know-how that such an endeavour requires. Masawi majored in economics while Taj studied electronics engineering.

“We’re very into gaming,” Masawi tells eCentralSports during a Zoom call with his business partner. “We saw the space growing a lot. But then we struggled to figure out who the best high-school esports players were.”

A partnership with BC School Sports

That curiosity led the long-time friends to found GameSeta. The venture won them the $5,000 Idea Prize at this past spring’s Coast Capital Venture Savings Prizes. It also led them to a partnership with BC School Sports.

Starting November 23 and running through the start of February, BCSS will run what it calls a “trial invitational” at member schools. Taking the form of a League of Legends tournament, the trial will gauge the viability of establishing regular esports competitions at the high-school level.

“Esports is a new frontier for BCSS but credit to our Board of Directors who felt it was important to explore every option on how to engage students with their school,” BCSS executive director Jordan Abney said in a GameSeta news release. “There is a mountain of evidence to suggest good things happen to youth when there is a sense of belonging, responsibility and community in their school. If we can bring that to students who wouldn’t normally participate in school sport, then that is a great thing for our member schools.”

LoL was a natural choice

GameSeta can facilitate tournaments in a number of other games, but Taj admits not all of them would have been right for the BCCS trial. “There are some games that you can introduce into high schools, where you’re working with kids from Grade 8 to 12,” he notes. “And then there are some titles, like Fortnite or Valorant, where schools don’t think that they’re appropriate because they’re first-person shooters.”

Hence the selection of League of Legends. The Riot Games title is not only hugely popular among high-school students, but is also based more on strategy and teamwork than it is on explicit violence.

Says Masawi: “There is research that shows that there is a lot of benefit correlated with strategy-focused games in the development of community and leadership skills in students.”

Masawi says the BCSS LoL tournament could help legitimize esports as a school sport in the province—and beyond. “It’s the first major step in making it a sport in high schools,” he says. “Currently, right now everything is recreational. So some schools have their own clubs and associations growing, but when it comes to official competition, this is, to my knowledge, the first time this is happening in Canada.”

A tight deadline

The tournament was announced in late October, and the registration deadline for schools is November 4. This, Taj admits, is a very brief window.

“Because it’s such a tight deadline for schools—it was very quick—we are anticipating around 30 to 60 schools for this. But next year we’re really hoping to get that level above 100,” he says. “We’re getting a lot of positive responses from schools.”

“It all depends on readiness,” Masawi adds. “Do the schools have the equipment? How much support and services can GameSeta provide those schools to get them on board?

“The goal is for us to be active in every single school,” he concludes, “because we do know that 72 percent of high-school students have been involved or play some sort of video games. So that, for us, is very exciting.”

I have done a lot of different things over the course of my life and professional career. I have interviewed Oscar and Grammy winners and written cover stories for glossy newsstand magazines. I have played guitar in a rock band on national TV and run an independent music label for which I wrote all of the PR and marketing materials. In my spare time, I sweated out a novel about a world where raccoons are kings and dragons are real.

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