LAST August, schools all over the Philippines opened up their gates to welcome students for face-to-face classes after two years of remote learning.
According to DepEd spokesperson Michael Wesley Poa, a total of 24,175 schools nationwide will implement five-day face-to-face classes while 29,721 schools will hold classes through blended learning.
For AcadArena chief growth officer and chief finance officer Justin Banusing, the return of face-to-face classes will pave the way for campus esports to become the next big thing in the Philippine gaming industry.
“We’re seeing tremendous growth - in signups, in revenue, in sponsors, and even in expansion opportunities. More and more people are seeing the potential of campus esports, and with the return of physical classes, there’s nowhere to go but up,” said Banusing.
Since the start of the school year 2022-2023, AcadArena, the campus esports organization supporting 700+ schools across the Philippines, has been making rounds across its affiliate schools. The Academy Homecoming initiative is intended to better connect with students and go beyond its usual audience as part of its back-to-school program.
Banusing and his team were able to visit their affiliate schools such as Ateneo de Manila University, La Salle, University of Santo Tomas, University of Makati, and National University.
After making rounds across Metro Manila, AcadArena has plans to visit affiliate schools across the rest of Luzon.
Pinoy campus gaming rockstar since 2014
Banusing has been in the esports and gaming scene since he was fourteen years old. Having started out as a student journalist writing about games and online tournaments, he is a witness to how esports and gaming have grown - not just in numbers but also in public perception.
“Campus gaming honestly wasn’t a thing back in 2014. There weren't many organizations that encouraged gaming, let alone supported student gamers," he explained.
"That’s the reason why we started AcadArena: to create a platform for dreamers to get their start in the industry through their campus communities. We’re creating what we wish we had when we started out, the support that wasn’t there for us, and many others."
Having recently graduated from the University of Washington, Banusing is relieved to have more time to dedicate to AcadArena. Justin shares that AcadArena is “full steam” ahead on its international expansion plans to bring it's "Not Just Play" advocacy globally.
Explaining 'Not Just Play' mission of AcadArena
Launched in 2019, the Iloilo-based startup has been helping student gamers become the best version of themselves without having to let go of their gaming consoles.
AcadArena currently boasts of distributing P3 million worth of scholarships to students - a testament to the organization’s “Not Just Play” mission.
This feat earned AcadArena’s founders - Banusing, Ariane Lim, and Kevin Hoang - a spot in the acclaimed Forbes 30 under 30. Just a few months after that, AcadArena hosted the biggest gaming convention of the year - CONQuest 2022. Last August 17, 2022, AcadArena also launched its newest branch in Brazil, its first global expansion in South America.
While AcadArena has a lot more in store for the rest of the year, Banusing shares that the organization is adamant about continuing the legacy it has set for itself, which is to spearhead campus esports and gaming in the Philippines.
“There’s still a long way to go, but I’m glad to say that AcadArena’s biggest impact so far is normalizing exploring a career in games among students and parents,” he shared.
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