EDUCATION IN GAMING

Through esports, students can learn social-emotional, high-order thinking and technical skills. During game play and competition, students might use strategic thinking, analytical and mathematical skills, or other abilities they’ve learned when responding to new or unexpected situations and obstacles. Participation can also provide a pathway to college and/or a career. Additionally, it can promote interest in related STEAM fields, such as game design, computer science, data analysis, broadcasting, music production, or graphic design. Gaming has the potential to improve functions such as visual processing and how the brain understands information, and many teens believe that playing certain games helps their problem-solving skills. The world of esports has many educational and career opportunities. Many schools with esports programs offer programs focused around competitive gaming, coding, engineering, game design and computer building. In fact, well-planned esports programs can support STEM learning in a variety of ways.  It encourages:

 

Teamwork for problem-solving:

Teammates quickly learn to treat losses as opportunities to solve problems and improve performance, turning to a growth mindset rather than embracing the idea that success is about innate talent. Esports can help foster positive interactions and friendships among students, teach teamwork and communication, provide opportunities to build technical and leadership skills, and create a sense of belonging. Participation in esports can also inspire interest in pursuing STEAM careers and higher education.

Scientific methodology:

As players work to figure out a game, their thinking becomes more systematic as they develop and test hypotheses to improve play. Esports offers numerous strategic, situational, and skill-building benefits. Strategic and analytical skills come into play as students select their own characters, examine their opponents’ characters, and determine how to defeat those opponents based on that selection. As they learn how to position each player’s character on a map or in an arena, students can develop strategic knowledge in game theory. This is the mathematical concept where players’ interactive choices affect or produce specific outcomes. Throughout the game, students use problem-solving skills to respond to new or unexpected situations and obstacles.

Using data and evidence:

Esports players gather data on timing and probability to plan faster speed runs, maximize the odds of finding in-game bonuses and generally fine-tune performance based on hard evidence.

Technological proficiency:

Students use more than just game controllers and consoles. They also film players, edit sound and video, publish tutorials, connect online, and develop programs to manage their meetings, data and more. Students also learn how computers function and the impact of different components like the CPU, GPU, memory card, motherboard, and cooling system on performance and game play. When preparing for a tournament, students learn how to organize and participate in competitive events beyond the gaming itself. Through these active learning experiences, students gain new technical skills that they can apply outside of esports. They may also be introduced to new roles that inspire future career choices, such as computer engineering, project management, event coordination, or broadcast engineering.

Prosocial Learning: 

As a parent, my biggest concern was the anti-social bias I had towards gaming. My understanding of developing a healthy social life was in person rather than online. Studies have shown that the interaction online is just as important as friendships developed in person.  It’s important for parents to understand the benefits gaming can provide. While too much of anything can always be dangerous, an understanding and appreciation of the benefits of gaming can be very helpful to parents and their teens. Building social skills through gaming can be an extremely rewarding experience that allows middle and high school-aged kids to gain valuable skills for their future. School sponsored esports clubs and teams have the potential to build inclusive, pro-social environments that can facilitate sound educational outcomes in an exciting way. Pairing esports with STEM education can help students reach their full potential. Esports teams in schools can foster positive interactions and friendships among students, teach teamwork and communication skills, provide opportunities to build leadership skills, and create a sense of belonging for students. A unique benefit of school-sponsored esports is its inclusive nature and the ability for all students with an interest and enthusiasm for gaming to participate regardless of skill level, physical abilities, gender identity, or age. With esports, the focus is on team building and shared enjoyment of the game. Whether a student wants to be a competitive gamer or not, there are many ways to be actively involved in the team—for example, being a shoutcaster and providing play-by-play commentating during games, helping with technical setup, managing team statistics, participating in practices, or helping to build school support and spirit. Whether engaging in game play with peers, participating in practice or competition, or just observing, students can learn how to create more-positive gaming environments as they venture outside of school to play online.

 

Esports can also inspire students to pursue higher education or careers in STEAM, such as game design, computer science, data analysis, broadcasting, music production, or graphic design. Today, many colleges and universities have esports intramural teams or offer esports degrees. Some institutions even provide scholarships for students to join collegiate esports leagues and compete in esports tournaments that are designed specifically for college-aged students. While only a small number of students will become professional, competitive players, these collegiate opportunities provide entry points into higher education.

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Author Matt Powell

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