Was the ECI Esports Certification Doomed From the Start? – The Esports Observer

Was the ECI Esports Certification Doomed From the Start? – The Esports Observer

The Esports Certification Institute’s mission was to offer a tool that allowed those wanting to work in esports the opportunity to show what they know. To that end the ECI created an exam, with input from a variety of industry executives and insiders, that cost $400 USD to take and lacked any academic or accreditation validity. The instrument (exam) was not reviewed by those with expertise in creating exams and to many in the esports community simply looked like a money grab.

However, there was some confusion surrounding the initiative as some of the biggest names in the industry put their name up as a supporter of the project. The community seemed perplexed that people they have come to trust in the esports space would back an initiative such as this.

Further, the Institute was attempting to derive authority in regards to its exam by touting the people surrounding the project. Unlike a Civil Service exam, which has been rigorously tested, validated, and used by government agencies to help them select and hire candidates, the ECI could not make such claims with its exam.

Other exams required in some industries such as accounting, real estate, law, and others, are aimed at a specific industry with specific goals. To give one exam the covers the entirety of esports seems impossible as the industry is vast with numerous positions that are unrelated. People took notice and openly criticized ECI saying that they were trying to be gatekeepers of the space.

There were a notable number of reactions and a lot of jokes about the certification, but here a few of the more substantive responses.

Travis Gafford, a notable gaming and esports journalist had this to say during a YouTube production:

“This should be a joke, the idea of this is really ridiculous. You look at some of the questions on the exam, they seem pretty questionable at least in the practice/study guide that you can get. And this is an industry that keeps changing, it’s fragmented. The idea that you could actually get some sort of certification or if there is an exam that could make it so that you could work in any part of the industry is really ridiculous.”

Bryce Blum, a lawyer that represents numerous esports organizations and others in the industry tweeted:

“Yes, the first iteration of ECI was clearly flawed, and, ironically, reinforced some of the problems it was trying to solve. I’m not blind to this reality and I’m not trying to diminish it. The product and aspects of the business model need work. But what’s missing from the public discourse is that ECI’s intent was good (see the ECI thread below). And while the road to hell may be paved with good intentions, so is the road to basically everything great in this world.”

Scott Smith, highly regarded as one of the pioneers of the esports space took note of one very particular item on the EIC website, which is no longer available.”

“FYI, in the fine print folks…US based users only too. ‘Users Outside the United States. The Website is not directed at or intended for users outside the U.S.’”

Finally, Jason Chung, a lawyer and professor at the University of New Haven offered the following to The Esports Observer:

“A certification process isn’t meant to be a bar to entry into an entire industry – it’s meant to confirm your mastery of skills necessary in service to others because you owe them a duty fiduciarily, monetarily or ethically,” Chung told The Esports Observer. “Furthermore, certification is meant to confirm that you’ve obtained the requisite skills and knowledge through education or apprenticeship.  A test without such guided learning is worthless and mere gatekeeping.

“Having run my own esports startup I get why ECI feels that gating business people is the way to go. Ironically, a certification is exactly what these unskilled “business people” want,” said Chen Yiji who has worked at places such as Yahoo.tv. “They can just sink 3 weeks or less and take the exam, then be certified and probably be much more presentable than a worker bee business person. The people without portfolios are the biggest problem and I think this piece of paper will just exacerbate the issue. The way it is now, they seem to be telling people this is a pathway, but you shouldn’t be paying 400 dollars for an empty promise of a job.”

“After being in the industry for 10 years, I can say that simply having esports knowledge is not enough. Just being able to say that ‘I know esports’ should be the baseline to even apply for jobs like these, and it should be an assumption on the part of the employer,” says Dustin Steiner of Esports Talk. “It’s more about how you apply that knowledge in your specific discipline that determines anything, and this test simply is not designed to test specific disciplines in esports in any meaningful way. The added cost is also an unnecessary barrier to entry to esports fans who might be looking to make the jump to working in the industry. While vouchers are said to be being worked on, there shouldn’t be such a high cost to begin with.”

Ultimately, the backlash against the initiative was so swift and severe that one day after it was announced, it was put on hold indefinitely.


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