Esports is no longer a niche industry, with projected 2019 revenues at over $1.1 billion and growing. Even as the industry leaders continue to attract multi-million dollar investments, esports is rapidly penetrating the grassroots of the American education system.
There is a growing acceptance of esports in high schools and universities. Esports is no longer a sub-domain for nerdy geeks. The industry has developed a competitive scenario where students cheer for their school teams to go head to head with a rival school.
An increasing number of schools are announcing esports programs and scholarships, which will pave the way for widespread acceptance of esports athletes.
What Is the Reason for Esports’ Growing Popularity on Campus?
With the United States Government formally recognizing League of Legends professional players as athletes, schools are not opposed to esports programs on campus. Over 200 universities in the United States are already offering esports scholarships, and students can use esports to gain admission into reputeable institutions such as UC Irvine, Marquette, and Ohio State.
In 2018, The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) partnered with PlayVS, an esports startup, to help the Association’s roughly 19,000 members to set up high school level esports programs. Nine different states recognize esports as a varsity sport in high schools. In the 2018-19 school year, 200 universities offered nearly $16 million in esports scholarships.
The Growing popularity of esports in the high school curriculum is because of a few key points.
- Video Games help students develop essential skills useful in their future careers.
- Esports is growing in popularity amongst youngsters and schools do not want to be out of touch with the younger generation.
- Esports enhance STEM learning.
What Skills Do Students Gain with Video Games?
Educators are increasingly using Video Games to help students develop vital real-life skills. Video games do not discriminate based on gender, race, or age, and in fact, they provide a common outlet for students to interact with each other.
Research has proved that playing video games improves problem-solving, spatial, and hand-eye coordination and increases creativity.
The inclusivity and accessibility of esports bring together students from diverse backgrounds to share a common passion. A 2015 Pew Research report states that video games are crucial elements in teen friendships. Like-minded individuals play video games and work together towards a common goal.
Improved Skills Due to Extra-Curricular Participation
An NCES report stated that students who had higher extra-curricular participation performed better in math and reading assessments. Schools and colleges are reporting increased interest in esports programs and do not want to be of touch with the younger generation. Extra-Curricular activities like esports can often help develop critical skills in students.
Solving Problems as a Computational Thinker
Depending on the games, esports often requires students to think their way out of problematic situations. As students try to analyze the situation, they are often developing key analytic skills that prove useful later in life.
The biggest esports titles are team games that require constant and fluid communication between teammates. The teams with the best coordination often emerge victorious, and communication forms a crucial part of esports.
Team Games also require excellent synergy between multiple players. MOBAs and FPS games have different strategies, and players have to collaborate with teammates to extract the maximum advantage out of any particular situation.
Students can learn team-building skills at an early age playing video games.
What Is STEM Learning?
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is a blended learning environment that shows students the real-world applications of problem-solving. Not every video game is optimal for STEM learning; experts need to design video games with STEM learning in mind.
However, as video games are often a more accessible medium to connect with the younger generation, STEM learning helps students internalize the scientific method of hypothesis and experimentation.
Students have increased opportunities to develop careers in esports or use esports programs to further their academic goals. High schools and universities have gotten a glimpse into these benefits. The benefits and scholastic actions show that esports are here to stay in academia.
Written by Rohan Samal
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