Actually, video games are great! Here’s why we encourage esports in education
Educational institutions can use esports to foster inclusivity, professional development skills, and more

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Esports programs for K-12 and higher education are gaining traction, and they’re not a passing fad.

The High School Esports League (HSEL) – dubbed the “largest high school league in the nation” – encompasses a community of over 3,400 schools and 140,000 students.

The National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) – which calls itself the “largest member association of varsity esports programs at colleges and universities across the U.S.” – began in 2016 when just seven colleges and universities had varsity esports programs. That number has since ballooned to more than 170 member schools and 5,000 student-athletes. These schools are now offering $16 million in scholarships and aid.

Yet, while the concept of esports in education is rapidly becoming more mainstream, many educators and parents remain skeptical, unwilling to fully embrace the idea. It’s this bias that’s hampering their ability to see the true value these programs bring to students, school systems, and communities at large.

The benefits of esports in education

If you forget about the stigma that’s often associated with esports, you quickly see the many scholastic and personal benefits it promotes. Some of these include:

  • Inclusivity. Unlike traditional sports, you don’t need certain physical gifts to participate. It’s not reserved for the strongest students, those with the highest GPAs, or those who run with the popular crowd. Scholastic esports are for everyone. These programs create an inclusive and equitable environment.
  • Professional development. The faces of esports typically belong to those with the controllers, but the arena is much bigger than that and goes far beyond gaming, opening up a world of career paths for participants at every stage of the process. There are musicians who write and compose the scores for the games. Graphic designers who do much of the artwork. Engineers and coders responsible for sound editing and programming. Marketers and broadcasters, and countless others in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. The list goes on. Esports provide career paths all these areas – and more.
  • Leadership and teamwork. In many esports games, you can only reach your objectives or goals by banding together. Teamwork is the name of the game, and it’s how you achieve the desired results. These lessons extend to the real world and can pay dividends as students move into the workforce.

How to create a successful and impactful esports environment for students

Building a meaningful and effective scholastic esports environment doesn’t happen overnight. It requires community and stakeholder buy-in, an established esports curriculum, and strong commitment to growth.

To achieve this, school systems need to:

  • Recognize the potential of esports. This starts with providing an inclusive environment for students with special needs, valuable learning experiences, and hands-on professional development opportunities.
  • Reverse the stigma. Invest in educational programs to overcome the negative perceptions held by parents, educators, and administrators about esports.
  • Secure funding. Assess what grants are available to implement esports more fully into school curricula.
  • Design esports facilities. Build and develop arenas for students to participate in esports. Consider the scale, size, and scope of the program you’re developing.
  • Give credit where credit is due. Become accredited and offer credits toward graduation for students who participate in esports, paving the way for their further career development.

Take your esports journey with a trusted partner

Shaping and cultivating an esports program can seem like a monumental task. In fact, trying to convince parents and faculty members to see the light may feel like you’re pushing a boulder up a cliff.

So, why would you take on this burden alone? SHI has a dedicated team that’s ready to help you build an esports program that fits your requirements and get it off the ground.

We can assist you in provisioning the right equipment, developing the optimal curricula, and obtaining the funding you need to make your esports dream a reality. What’s more, SHI has partnered with the Ultimate Gaming Championship to develop Battle Academy, a free esports tournament for high school and college students to foster community and empower students of all abilities.

Esports may feel like a game to some. But when it comes to the needs and future opportunities of your students, it’s anything but. Trust us, this isn’t our first “quest.”