How Might Esports Influence Our Education Sectors?Â
A 16-year-old from Pennsylvania walked off with $3 million in prize money after triumphing at the Fortnite World Cup this summer. It generated headlines across the globe and led to a number of difficult conversations between parents and their children. It becomes a lot harder to tell them to put the controller down a do their homework when the retort is that gaming can turn you into a multimillionaire overnight.
Video gaming is now the worldâ€™s most popular entertainment medium, having long since outstripped the film and music industries. Esports is a cultural phenomenon, boasting more than 450 million viewers across the globe. It significantly over-indexes among children and young adults, as they have grown up with technology and they are liable to idolize superstar gamers over traditional athletes like LeBron James and Tom Brady.
Once the preserve of the nerds, gaming is now cool. Gamers are the new jocks. Mice and keyboards are the new barbells and tank tops.
Education providers now have a golden opportunity to capitalize on esportsâ€™ popularity among younger generations. If harnessed correctly, it can provide a positive and powerful boost to the education system, helping children develop their STEM skills, keeping them away from drugs and alcohol, maintaining discipline and spiking interest in extracurricular activities.
There is opposition among some politicians and education providers when it comes to embracing the esports revolution. In Quebec, for instance, the opposition party has sought to score political points by decrying competitive gaming, arguing that it breeds cyber dependence and discourages physical activity. Others fear that it leads to isolation among youngsters.
However, such proclamations are well wide of the mark. Esports is an extremely social pursuit, as it brings huge, passionate communities together online and in person to compete at LAN events. We are living in a digital world and video games are increasingly all about strategy, cooperation, learning and teamwork.
You will also note that the majority of esports stars are thin and look to be in good shape. It requires mental discipline, agility, endurance and so on to thrive in the competitive gaming sector, and the leading lights are increasingly realizing that they need to improve their diets and treat their bodies as temples in order to maintain concentration and boost endurance. The young, aspiring gamers will follow suit.
As VR and AR technology improves, gamers will increasingly be brought out of their chairs too, ensuring they get a workout while gaming.
The most popular esport is League of Legends, a multiplayer online battle arena title from Riot Games. It is celebrating its 10th birthday this year and the LoL World Championship is comparable to the Super Bowl in terms of viewer numbers.Â Michael Sherman, director of collegiate esports at Riot, reports that LoL pros are generally from strong science, technology, engineering and mathematics backgrounds.
â€śAlthough we donâ€™t think there is one type of student that makes up top League of Legends talent, 62% of our participants are from STEM majors,â€ť he said.
It compares to a U.S. national average of just 36% of undergraduates on STEM courses. Video gaming has a positive impact upon developing STEM skills, and it is also credited with pushing more girls into these courses after they were traditionally underrepresented. Other skills that children learn when competing in esports include communication, problem solving, teamwork, dexterity and concentration.
Contributing to the School Ecosystem
Gamers were historically stigmatized, marginalized and stereotyped as nerds and basement dwellers. That often left them on the outskirts of the school ecosystem, while the jocks and cheerleaders ruled the roost. Now they are embraced into the community to a greater extend, allowing previously disenfranchised children to become accepted and celebrated.
Securing victory at esports tournaments is extremely important to young gamers that harbor dreams of becoming the sort of superstars featured onÂ Unikrn Esports, with their sponsorship deals, massive Twitch followings and handsome salaries. They will not want to risk being axed from the team for bad behavior, so esports will help keep teenagers on the straight and narrow.
A Golden Opportunity
Offering a strong and exciting esports program is becoming an increasingly important factor in the general attractiveness of a school or college. LoL publisher Tencent has teamed up with Oxford University for courses and tournaments. Robert Morris University in Chicago has been offering substantial scholarships for LoL stars for more than five years. Ohio State and Becker College in Massachusetts are among those running esports courses this year.
The most exciting developments are happening at grassroots level. One in five schools now have an esports program, according to an Extreme Networks and eCampus News poll, which surveyed 281 technical and administrative leaders across schools North America, Latin America, Asia Pacific, Europe and the Middle.
â€śFar more than a game,forward-looking educational institutions realize that esports programs elevate campus life, engage students, and foster new skills,â€ť said Bob Nilsson, director of vertical solutions marketing at Extreme Networks. â€śWith organizational buy-in and a strong network infrastructure in place, schools across K-12 and higher education can kick-start their own esports programs and reap the benefits.â€ť