While many gamers may have aspirations for going pro, the process of transitioning from casual gamer to esports professional can be overwhelming. There’s content creation, business and marketing strategy, plus one typically must be good at actually playing the esport in question. Now, in Japan at least, there’s a school where gamers looking to go pro can actually study and develop the skill they need to hit the big leagues.
Konami, the Japanese gaming juggernaut behind such franchises as Metal Gear, Silent Hill, Castlevania, and Dance Dance Revolution, among countless others, has officially started a school for aspiring pro gamers. Located in the Ginza district of Tokyo, the Konami Creative Center Ginza is looking to further establish and legitimize esports in Japan. According to the school’s official website, “in order for e-sports to take root as a [sic] Japanese culture and further develop, it is necessary to have a full range of facilities and environment [sic].”
In terms of those “facilities,” the center will have a studio, allowing for tournaments to be held and broadcast. The studio will be equipped with everything necessary for live broadcasting and “simultaneous distribution in multiple languages.” Beyond the studio, there will also be a store, and of course the school. A translated letter from the school’s principal, Yoshihiko Ota, says in part: “‘Esports Ginza school’ offers a wide range of attractive curriculum that is necessary for getting involved in the world of e-sports, such as ‘communication,’ ‘self-produce,’ [sic] and ‘meeting planning and management,’ as well as practical game skills.”
It would seem as though students already started studying at the school earlier this month. Of course, these studies come at a price. An article from Kotaku offers some examples of how much it costs to study at the facility: “twice a week for coaching alone is 41,800 yen ($396), while a four-times-a-week business seminar is 79,200 yen ($750).” For students interested in a learning experience that goes beyond coachings and seminars, there is the option to study full time. “Full-time students have morning sessions and afternoon ones, with class starting at 9:40 am and ending at 3:10 pm with an hour-plus break for lunch.”
It’s interesting to note that, at least according to Konami’s website, esports is still only gaining popularity in Japan. The school’s website has an “About Esports” section that reads: “Esports, which regards games as sports competitions, is gaining momentum mainly overseas and is beginning to attract a great deal of attention in Japan.” While of course video games and gaming are popular and deeply rooted in Japan, it would seem that regarding “games as sports competitions” isn’t as established there as it is elsewhere. Considering there are few, if any comparable institutions, the Konami Creative Center Ginza is sure to go a long way in making sure that aspiring gamers in Japan will be able to take full advantage of the “momentum” that the devoted study of esports can provide.