In just a few years, AcadArena has helped make campus esports the next big thing around the country, all while financially supporting students gamers.
As fun, entertaining, and enjoyable as gaming is, there’s no denying that it still has a certain stigma attached to it in certain places in society. Ever since the inception of video games, there have been people who saw it as just a waste of time, or worse, an activity that negatively affected you. No truer is this then when it comes to gaming’s reputation in schools. Often, parents like to say that playing video games is just a distraction from your studies and you’ll get nothing worthwhile from doing it.
But over time, that mindset is slowly changing as more and more people see the benefit of gaming, both as a legitimate sport and as a means to make a better life for yourself. And helping change that mindset, especially in schools around the country and Southeast Asia, is fast-rising local startup AcadArena. Since 2019, the startup has helped plant the seeds of a growing esports community in schools and campuses across Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
WHAT IS ACADARENA
AcadArena describes themselves as an “esports startup that helps student gamers in Southeast Asia to compete in international esports tournaments.” Their main mission and vision though is to build the campus esports scene around the country at the collegiate level, and that includes many forms such as competition, streaming, commentating, managing, coaching, and marketing. “Whether you’re an aspiring industry professional, competitive player, content creator or just a casual gamer who wants to meet and grow, AcadArena is building something for every student that loves games. We’re here to grow local competition,” states their website.
It was founded by Justin Banusing, Kevin Hoang, and Ariane Lim in 2019 with the goal of building student gaming communities across the Philippines and Southeast Asia. The trio behind AcadArena are no strangers in the gaming space. Ariane previously led collegiate programs for Garena Philippines, as well as marketing for NetEase and Huya. Kevin was Twitch’s Global Scholastic Program Manager while Justin has been working in gaming since 2014 for companies like ESPN. They all came together to help show schools that there should be a space for gaming in campuses and student gamers that their passions are worth following.
WHAT THEY DO
To that end, AcadArena has helped set up many student gaming and esports clubs in many top universities around the country like Ateneo, UP Diliman, UST, and La Salle. The startup hosts and organizes numerous tournaments where school esports teams, clubs, and communities compete in both major and minor leagues in over 10 different games like Fornite, PUGB Mobiel, Valorant, and COD Mobile. Players from all skill levels are welcome to join in the many leagues, competitions, or brackets AcadArena offers. And the best part, teams who place in the top take home cash prizes. Basically, they are making campus gaming a real and viable thing and a legit sport worth doing.
While being able to play video games in schools while potentially earning money too seems like a dream to many, AcadArena goes deeper than that. It doesn’t just let students do esports in campus, it also makes them see their potential in it. This is why they also educate students through programs, talks, modules, and other activities so that they can learn more about the growing and lucrative esports industry. They bring about the best of what campus esports could offer and build communities for students to find support and explore their passions.
SUPPORTING STUDENT GAMERS
To help further empower students, AcadArena also offers millions of pesos worth of scholarships. It’s Southeast Asia’s first esports scholarship fund of its kind as they provide financial aid and play-to-earn scholarships for exemplary student gamers to help them go through school. They have a whole menu’s worth of scholarships on offer, each with its own criteria and designated requirements so you can choose which is right for you. The scholarships are available to senior high school and college students and potentially getting one is as simple singing up on their website and applying for one.
Campus gaming isn’t something that’s often talked about, but AcadArena saw the potential for video games and esports to bring about positive change in schools. They helped fill in that gap and got major brands and sponsors to support many of their initiatives. It’s no wonder then that the three co-founders were include in Forbes 2022 30 under 30 Asia list. It just goes to show that video games are indeed worth your time.