Esports in School: Why Should Educators Embrace Esports?
The North America Scholastic Esports Federation is on a mission to use high school esports (competitive, team-based video gaming) to provide opportunities for ALL students to develop skills they’ll need to thrive in work and in life. We founded the non-profit NASEF a year ago, and educators, students, and families are welcoming the opportunities created using the vehicle of esports.
You might be thinking, it seems a little contradictory to form esports clubs on high school campuses… After all, aren’t teens supposed to stay away from video games? You’d be shocked to find out the incredible benefits we’ve seen by combining the worlds of esports and education!
We believe that educators should embrace esports so they can reach more students, as well as to help provide them with opportunities to grow. We also believe that free education is a right, so all NASEF programs are provided free to the schools, organizations, and students who participate. This ensures equitable access for all.
Going Where the Students Are
The popularity of video games among high school students is undeniable. Sales statistics provided by game manufacturers show the massive amount of high schoolers that are playing their games on a daily basis. If students are gaming against friends while they’re at home, why not encourage community and connection by playing in a cooperative environment at school?
As our society becomes more isolated by burying our heads into our cell phones, we see teenagers doing the same thing. If you’ve walked around a shopping mall on a Friday evening, have you noticed groups of teenagers “hanging out” together? Often times, their version of socializing is sitting around on their phones.
We’ve found that by helping high school students form esports clubs, they’re actually socializing. They have formed a community of boys and girls who enjoy gaming and related activities. Instead of students going home to play video games in isolation, they’re playing among a community of fellow students. Students in esports clubs are actively participating in activities, making friends, learning incredibly valuable skills that will help them in and outside of the classroom, and having fun while doing it.
Help Students Invest Into their Own Education
By forming an esports club on campuses or in community-based organizations, schools find that their students are more invested in their education. Educators who are involved with NASEF have shared countless success stories of students who previously were disengaged, not socializing, isolated, and receiving poor grades in their classes. “To play on the esports club, students must have at least a 2.0 grade point average. That’s a big motivator for some kids who love gaming, but struggle in school,” shared one high school teacher.
Learn Valuable Skills
Playing esports is a collaborative activity. Students form teams and must create strategies to accomplish their objective, then communicate well with each other. Just like a baseball or soccer team, each player on the esports team has a role to play. Some students have found an opportunity to thrive as leaders among their esports clubs. Other students have discovered their passion for working in a supporting role.
NASEF is the only high school esports platform that builds deep learning into the framework of the program. It’s crucial to make overt connections between club roles, team play, and the real world.
Working As a Team
If we look at a professional sports team, they have hundreds of employees who are hired to make that organization successful. Only a small percentage are the actual players on the field. Support staff for a professional team may include general managers, marketing personnel, graphic designers, technology professionals, event planners, financial professionals, and recruiters.
Esports is no different. Not all students are drawn to the gaming aspect of esports, and we encourage students to explore and improve their skills in any of those areas! There is a home in a NASEF esports club for students of all interests.
Enhancing Education with Our Approved Curriculum
One of the incredible achievements we’ve been able to accomplish with our great education partners is the approval of our English curriculum in the state of California for 9th through 12th grade education. This esports-centric curriculum taps into student interests while teaching time-tested principles.
By using esports as our vehicle to reach students where they are, we believe that we can teach students valuable skills that will help them in college and beyond, plus get them excited about careers in STEM-related fields.
Esports and STEM Education
STEM education and esports are a perfect combination. The two worlds are totally intertwined when we look at how games are programmed, the technology used to deliver the game experience, as well as the strategies involved in competition. We already discussed collaboration, communication, and teamwork — all acknowledged as STEM skills that are crucial to most jobs today. Our goal is to encourage boys and girls to develop these skills and explore careers in STEM by exposing them to the different elements involved in the games they play and the overall esports environment.
We believe that through esports we can help more students thrive, gain a passion for STEM-related careers, and grow into great citizens of our society.
Visit esportsfed.org to learn more about how to start a NASEF club free.