TO complement its alumni of highly skilled games designers, developers and programmers, APIIT Education Group had earlier this year teamed up with eSports Malaysia to open the APU eSports Malaysia Academy which extends the education provider’s involvement in the gaming industry value chain.
Located at APU’s (Asia Pacific University) campus in Technology Park Bukit Jalil, the academy provides youths with a structured approach in a safe environment to develop their skills in competitive gaming. Here, APU provides the venue and the facilities for the training programmes while eSports Malaysia provides the curricula and trainers to conduct these programmes.
According to APIIT Education Group vice-president of operations Gurpardeep Singh, it is a synergistic partnership with both parties working to build the academy into a one-stop training centre for competitive gaming in Asia.
“eSports will be a demonstration sport in the next Asian Games in Jakarta next year, and a full Medal sport in the following Games in China in 2022. It is only a matter of time before it becomes an Olympic sport, and we need to ensure that Malaysia is prepared to compete at the highest stage. There is a tremendous future,” he said.
Gurpardeep said the academy’s primary objectives are to enhance awareness among Malaysians and their participation in esports; to develop a community of competitive gamers who are able to compete globally and raise Malaysia’s profile in this field; to provide training to potential game officials and organisers so as to enhance the quality of tournaments organised in Malaysia; and to enhance overall awareness of gaming as a viable industry.
Before the initiation of the academy, the relationship between APU and eSports Malaysia started when APU received official endorsement from eSM to establish the APU eSports Club. To date, the eSports Club has 280 members, in which some of them represented APU and Malaysia in the global arena of eSports, such as the IEF International Collegiate Esports League 2016 held in Korea, as well as the League of Legends International Collegiate Championship 2016 in Taipei.
The APU eSports Academy will be key in promoting healthy competitive gaming within the university environment, said Gurpardeep. “It was created at the demand of the industry with a vision to be a leading eSports academy in the world. Apart from promoting healthy competitive gaming, the academy will play a role in building student’s character by developing essential life skills such as perseverance, teamwork and decision-making.”
And while students develop their gameplay skills, they also learn other important transferable skills such as communication skills, teamwork and strategy.
“We need to accept that eSports is as much a professional sport as it is a recreational one. Just like we have academies for sports such as golf, tennis and swimming (and even multiple martial arts), the eSports Academy helps students to enhance their skills to competitive levels,” said Gurpardeep.
“It is well-known that our local players such as Mushi, Chuan, AmTuah and many more have been competing in many international tournaments, so we know that our local talents are able to compete with the best in the world. However, without proper guidance and a development programme only a few are able to compete at that level, and we hope with the opening of APU eSports Malaysia Academy, we are able to change that. Our mission is to ensure that the students of the academy are able to master the basic skills, act professionally and are competition-ready. We want the academy to be able to raise the standard of our local competitive scene to the next natural level,” he remarked.
At Press time, the APU eSports Malaysia Academy has opened application for game-based course with games ranging from DOTA 2, League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and FIFA Series. The courses are offered at Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced Levels. Each course will run 12 weeks of coaching and training on weekends.
“The basic requirement is ability to speak English, and we are looking at students from the age of 10 onwards. The earlier the start, the faster they learn and they must have interest to pursue eSports. They should also be playing games such as DOTA 2, FIFA 17, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and League of Legends, and an evaluation process will establish whether they are at beginner, intermediate or advanced level,” Gurpardeep explained.
“Students who have completed the courses will receive a certification jointly issued by APU and Esports Malaysia. In the longer term, we are looking at working with the Human Resources Ministry to accredit various aspects of gameplay as through the development of appropriate National Occupation Skills Standards (NOSS), so that students may also receive accreditation from the Department of Skills Development.
“In the future, we will look into offering diploma and degree courses which include eSports event organisation, shout-casting, PR, marketing, learning related technical or production skills and more,” he said.
Gurpardeep said classes commenced last month and the academy hopes to be able to train up to 300 people by the end of the year.
He highlighted that APU has been offering its own Computer Games Development Degree for more than 10 years. Through this academy, its own students would gain valuable research opportunities in games psychology and strategy, and overall what truly makes a successful game.
“This then feeds back into their work in designing and developing international class games. We have already achieved success in this regard. For example, we already have students who created and published their own mobile games, and even have an alumnus who is today among the lead developers in one of the most popular games in the world — Final Fantasy XV. We want to take our involvement in games to even greater heights,” he said.