Esports in education offer a way to compete, but it addresses other needs including teamwork, communication, mental toughness, and skills that transfer to other careers.
Times sure have changed. As kids, how many of us were told to turn off our video games and do our homework? Now, parents could just as easily say, “Don’t you have gaming practice for school?”
There are over 200 colleges and countless other K-12 schools that have embraced esports as a way to integrate competitive video games into the curriculum. Not only does esports in education offer a way to compete, but it addresses other needs including teamwork, communication, mental toughness, and skills that transfer to other careers.
It pays to be a gamer
Robert Morris University offered the first esports scholarship in 2014. Students that played League of Legends could pay 35% of their tuition ($12,000) with just the lower tier grant. Since then, hundreds of schools have adopted esports as a valid team sport the whole campus can root for.
During Esports BAR+ Americas 2020, GGTech CEO America César Roses explained that the skills acquired for esports and gaming can benefit other aspects of conventional education.
“We have used Overwatch to teach physics; Minecraft to teach natural science,” said Roses. “You can’t imagine how rewarding it is to see a lot of highly motivated students. We believe that the integration of video games and educational software will significantly transform the way we approach learning.”
Students who participate in team sports learn a myriad of other valuable skills that transfer to other aspects of life. Those who are not as athletic miss out on the camaraderie, feelings of accomplishment, and self-discipline you get on a team, just to name a few.
Esports is more than gaming
Digital Schoolhouse teamed up with Nintendo UK to see how gamified lessons impacted student interest and performance. A 2021 Junior Esports Evaluation report showed that students who participated in the pilot Esports tournament were more engaged with activities in school. More than half the teachers reported that students reached a higher level of attainment than usual.
Students reportedly loved the experience, with 84% wanting more lessons in school similar to the esports tournament. Once children learn that they, too can make games, their interest in STEM skyrockets. Ninety-one per cent of teachers reported that pupils were either “very” or “extremely” interested in careers in games as a result of the program.
Nintendo UK has expanded the program to include a new nationwide tournament for students aged eight to eleven. Schools will compete in Switch games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Race with Ryan, and Crayola Scoot.
“We have seen first-hand the positive impact this has had on pupils who have benefited from teamwork, strategy and social improvements,” said Kalpesh Tailor, Head of Communications at Nintendo UK. “It is not only inspiring pupils but also helping to educate teachers and parents about the endless opportunities digital skills create.”
Gaming for good
In addition to personal and professional skills, esports gives students a way to learn about and support important social issues, such as food insecurity. Esports has also created opportunities for underserved communities and minorities.
For example, esports has also given Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) a way to fundraise and improve student participation. In August, US-based non-profit esports body Cxmmunity and US esports organisation Version1 launched a scholarship and mentorship programme for HBCU students.
Women are also benefiting from esports in education. Earlier this year, North American gaming community the*gameHERs launched its first women’s collegiate division with support from Lenovo Esports, Stay Plugged In (SPIN), eFuse, Evil Geniuses’ Geniuses League, and others.
Schools aren’t the only ones that benefit, either. School esports programmes help educate parents on the career paths and life skills that their children obtain. Likewise, esports as an industry is breaking the stereotype that gamers are lazy young boys living in their parents’ basements. Now, students are encouraged to follow their gaming dreams into the work force, which is good for everyone.