How Schools Can Use Esports for More Than Just Gaming

by in General | Feb, 11th 2020

Esports is more than just playing a game, as it teaches important life lessons and used in a variety of ways in schools. Whether it’s a GPA requirement to participate or teaching indirectly, esports is invaluable to the educational experience.

The esports federations themselves can also have challenges that help students “level up” in out of the ordinary ways. It’s more than just playing games all the time. Esports can help us become better students, and better people if we let it.

NASEF and You

The North American Scholastic Esports Federation (NASEF) name speaks for itself. Some schools, like Spring Mills in Martinsburg, also take this to the next level with STEM education. Sure, they play League of Legends, NHL 20, Smash Bros and will take on Fortnite soon, this will also include the STEM field.

Monty Skeen, Spring Mills esports general manager, pointed out something NASEF is doing to promote esports in ways that directly connect with their curriculum.

“NASEF is real big on these what they call Beyond the Game Challenges, where they have developed these challenges — once we get established I’m going to have the guys doing this too — it’s these different things that would go into running an eSports team such as posting clips, doing some sort of commercial, making fliers, coming up with officials documents.”

“They have it tied directly into curriculum standards. Whenever you’re designing a logo, that ties right into an art or graphic design standard. Whenever you’re shooting a promo video, that goes into communications standards. Maybe developing a mod, that goes into programming. They have a lot of ideas for how this relates directly to STEM, and that’s where I would like to take it.”

This is important because it shows there’s more to esports than just gaming well. No matter what you’re into, you can influence esports and take part in some way. Into health and sciences? Well, you can be a team’s coach and dietary consultant. It’s important to eat healthy and be healthy if you’re going to be an athlete of any kind. That counts for esports, too.

Their board of education even held a Minecraft competition, where the player had to build an educational place within the constraints of Minecraft. Crum, who played since 2011, created Harpers Ferry in game.

“It was a competition that was held by the Board of Education to build an educational place in Minecraft. I’ve been playing Minecraft since 2011, so I was well-versed in how everything worked in there. It was something I learned to build in my computer class, so I decided to take it on. I spent five, four hours a day for a couple weeks just constantly building, and then I had to take a video and that took a couple hours, just recorded the place and getting it all on video.”

Things like this take incredible planning, structure and patience. There are so many ways that esports and schools can work together to teach our youth and get them prepared for the future.

Looking to the Future

More than 200 colleges right now have esports scholarships. But again, it’s not all for players. People who want to be involved as this sport grows, there are spots for IT and AV technical people.

Management and coaches are always needed. Some people might say these types of degrees aren’t valuable, but the industry says otherwise. It’s closing in fast on becoming a billion-dollar industry. Educators take esports to heart, too. stated how an educator they spoke to them about debugging and maintenance. Being apart of a team and working together, solving problems and securing victories is the purpose of esports. For people interested in esports, going into the technical and programming fields is a viable option.

Having strategies to solve problems is key in both fields, after all. Students who can learn to work together early can be stars in some of these high-demand fields. If you can learn, communicate well and use these to grow, there’s nothing you can’t do.

Securing funding is the hardest part, though. Not everyone’s keen on the idea of kids gaming at and after school at all. Many people don’t see it as something worthwhile and get stuck on “Kids playing games lol.” But esports is more than that. Esports help kids grow as people. Teachers who use esports in schools can help children come together.

It’s so important to work as a team, to communicate positively and to work hard at anything you do. Esports is more than practicing all the time. It’s also a great incentive to study! For example, back to Spring Mills, they have a GPA requirement to join.

“We have the same requirements that other sports have. You’ve got to have a 2.0 (grade-point average) to play. I’ve had to turn some people away, like, ‘I would love to have you on here, but you’ve got to fix your grades.’ When they realize this could be a motivator to get good grades to be on the team and to play professionally and to represent your school, a lot of parents do tend to come around.”

If you want to represent your school, you must study. What greater motivation to become an esports player than to study hard? In a way, it teaches students that improving their mental acuity is just as important as having quick reflexes.

Other than Spring Mills, more schools are joining in on the act, too. Teachers aren’t running the show, either. The kids are in charge, conducting the meetings and making important decisions. Sure, teachers likely step in if they get sidetracked, but this teaches a lot of valuable life tools.

There’s a real future in esports, no matter what part of it you want to take part in. I’m glad to see more schools part of the esports industry. Erasing the stigma that esports is just nerds gaming and doing nothing valuable is one of the significant hurdles.

Schools that can do that and tie esports into their education process are going to be the real winners. Like I’ve said before, a lot can be learned from the sport if people are willing to take the time to do so.


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