Why are schools adding esports programs to their curriculum?
Once branded a short-lived diversion, the esports industry is not only here to stay, but is breaking revenue and viewership records every year. According to research published by Green Man Gaming, the industry is already worth more than $1 billion and has a following larger than the NFL.
Esports is particularly attractive to younger people, which gives educators an interesting and unique opportunity. More than half of Gen Z boys and men, for example, consider esports to be more relevant to them than traditional athletics. Schools are using this interest in esports to craft new lessons, get students involved in on-campus activities and to provide their students with more scholarship and collegiate options. It’s a win-win, regardless of what happens in the game.
What technology and equipment do esports classes need?
One of encouraging things about esports is that schools can scale up their investment as needed. Unlike traditional athletics, which come with significant equipment and infrastructure costs regardless of the school’s funding, an esports team can be started with minimal costs. As your school’s esports program develops, the following technologies will be necessary, or at least highly recommended:
Gamer-friendly desks and chairs
It may not seem like it at first glance, but professional esports requires a commitment to health and fitness to remain in top form. This extends to the desks and chairs that competitors use while gaming. Designed to provide an ergonomic fit to gamers, these specialized gaming stations come with extended leg room, extended desktop space and easy adjusting.
Some manufacturers, like Spectrum, build gaming furniture with schools in mind. Spectrum’s Meta and Shadow desks, for example, are built for a range of gamers, no matter their size or preferred desk layout. This ensures a comfortable fit for your school’s entire team.
Most esports titles have been released in the last five years, so to provide a smooth, competitive gaming experience, your school will need high performance computers. Your district may already have these available, as graphic design, video editing and engineering classes also require considerable computing resources.
Dell computers, under its Alienware brand, is a popular choice for school esports clubs. That’s because Dell is a major supporter of the esports industry, and its Alienware brand is highly-regarded among gamers for performance and reliability.
If your district has the desks, chairs, computers, mice, keyboards and network it needs to game, then that’s enough for most schools to start with. However, as esports is largely about strategy, teams often invest in interactive displays to better plan for opponents and go over previous matches. An interactive display makes this easy because images and videos can be annotated over, so teams can be coached as one, using a visual approach that most people receive well.
How can esports programs drive student learning?
Esports will always be associated with in-game competition, but there’s plenty going on outside of the game as well. In fact, schools and districts are starting to roll out esports-focused curriculum, which provides students with strong knowledge-building exercises between matches. Some of this curriculum includes:
Nutrition and fitness
Esports doesn’t provide the same activity as traditional athletics, but nutrition and fitness are a major part of the regimen for an esports professional. Staying in good shape improves thinking, which drives better communication, faster reactions, and increased strategizing. This is why many schools incorporate fitness-oriented coursework into their curriculum.
Communication and teamwork
Both are critical to esports success, as most major esports titles are team-based. It’s impossible to get far without learning how to operate as a team member, which has long been a major benefit of traditional athletics.
Tactical and strategic thinking
There aren’t many opportunities for students to engage in these forms of advanced thinking, but esports provides an outlet for both. Learning game theory and adjusting quickly to changing game status trains students to approach problems in a creative, assertive manner.
There are many more curriculum highlights, including proper goal setting, the use of technology and training various motor skills. In short, there is no reason why esports can’t be a major learning opportunity as well.
What are some other benefits of esports in the classroom?
There are plenty of learning opportunities associated with esports, which is what educators want more than anything. That still only scratches the surface of what esports can mean to students. Beyond the thrill of competition and the value of learning, esports also brings the following:
At the high school level, esports are generally open to anyone who is interested, no matter their age, race or gender. Your school’s esports team, then, can be a comfortable gathering place for students who may not be connected to the campus in any other way.
Continuing the above point, it’s always a good thing when school activities draw more students to the campus. Many students who join their esports team will eventually join other clubs and teams, especially once they meet new people and make new friends.
Forges a college connection
More and more universities are opening up opportunities for esports, whether to kickstart a career in the industry or to earn a scholarship while playing for their alma mater. Your school’s esports team can give students a leg up on these opportunities and propel them to college.
Esports has a bright future in schools and the student interest is already there. Any time educators can connect with their students, that’s a win, even if it’s through gaming. All your school needs is the right A/V integrator and the proper technology to get started.
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