The educational potential of esports: Inside the BIG x Babbel partnership

Earlier this year, Esports Insider reported that Berlin International Gaming (BIG) had partnered with e-learning languages platform Babbel to produce and promote educational content on BIG’s broadcasting channels, including tailored stream animations and social media campaigns. 

Among hundreds of collaborations promoting goods and services, this partnership is something unique for esports. Providing additional value through education is something still quite rare — particularly for a teams org like BIG. An esports partnership related to language learning is perhaps the first of its kind.

BIG partnered with Babbel in January 2021. It’s supposedly only the first of BIG’s multiple educational initiatives. Image credit: BIG

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Since its launch in 2017 the organisation has operated various multinational teams, which can be challenging. In addition to the communication problems, there are also myriad cultural differences.

Daniel Finkler, CEO of BIG, sees breaking down the language barriers as imperative for a multilingual esports team to succeed. “It’s essential to work with teams very closely and resolve conflicts diplomatically. If you can get a grip on language barriers, communication becomes easier and multinational teams can start developing to their full potential. If you can’t break down those language barriers in the long term, it’s unlikely your team will succeed.”

The idea of pursuing education through esports was fancied by both parties from the beginning. “During our first conversation, it became clear that Babbel is very innovatively positioned and recognises the great opportunities of esports,” Finkler said. “We had an excellent exchange together with SPORTFIVE agency and the developed campaign convinced all sides.

“Babbel is a renowned brand with very helpful product, helping millions worldwide. It’s the right tool for anyone motivated to work on their language skills every day, which is a good thing we’re happy to support.”

All BIG players and employees now have access to the language-learning app. “Using the application helps us sharpen players’ language skills and check their progress when needed. If we can reduce the number of communication mistakes by five percent this year, it will already have a significant impact on our overall performance,” noted Finkler.

Pictured: Daniel Finkler, CEO of BIG

The organisation will add interactive educational features to its stream broadcast. Finkler explained: “Babbel will be present on all BIG’s and its players’ channels. In the first step, we will use our live-streaming and social platforms to place Babbel as one of the leading providers for language-learning apps in our community.

“We will focus on emphasising the importance of learning languages in all areas of daily life, as well as help people to improve their team-play within international teams,” he added. 

One of the features planned is a Language Starter Kit, which provides some of the essential and often-used terms in different languages. “As every game is different, we will adjust our campaigns to each game and include feedback from our community,” Finkler said. “Besides that, interactive animations with quiz questions of educational character are already running on all of our streams.” 

As one of the first esports organisations to recognise the potential of esports for education, BIG considers the esports audience ideal for language learning. “The educational potential of esports is enormous,” Finkler said. “The community is young and global … Learning at a young age lays the foundation for the rest of your life.

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“Mastering languages is nowadays essential in many areas of life. At the same time, it has never been easier and we want to educate our community on this fact.”

Finkler also sees esports as a potential addition to current education systems: “We can’t rely only on the education systems of countries anymore. They are old and not very adaptive. We want to make an essential contribution by promoting alternative digital solutions.”

We will have to wait a bit to see if esports’ educational potential is truly as promising as BIG sees it. Nonetheless, it’s important that e-learning companies start to recognise this potential and act on it, reaching young audiences with innovative methods of education. 

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