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Creating Spaces That Turn Gaming Fun into Learning

What is Esports?

Esports is short for “electronic sports.” It’s a form of competition where video-gamers square off either in teams or individually. Competitions take place in a multiplayer setting, with prizes or scholarships often awarded at the end of tournaments. Initially, gamers mostly played alone from their homes. Now, tournaments can take place in large arenas, watched live or online by huge audiences. There’s an entire gaming culture with sponsors, merchandise and fans.

In K–12 education, the focus is a bit different. For example, the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the North American Scholastic Esports Federation (NASEF) to focus on community, not competition– part of that was the Minecraft Challenge. Students in grades 3–12 logged into the sandbox game Minecraft and designed their ideal quarantine house. The completed homes could be uploaded online via Flipgrid for all members to see. The competition was free to enter, and winners were eligible for a $500 scholarship, among other prizes.

Why Esports in School?

Esports is about more than just indulging kids’ enthusiasm for video games. Esports channels student fun and their competitive spirit into a structured and adult-supervised opportunity that helps kids connect with school– and in turn, learning. Here are some other benefits:

Academic Development

Proponents say Esports is a springboard to develop critical thinking, problem-solving, STEM knowledge and digital citizenship– skills that are applicable across multiple career paths. Esports can also provide a great environment for English language learners to improve their skills.

Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)
Esports offers many of the same advantages as traditional team sports and extra-curricular clubs– encouraging collaboration, participation and communication skills. Students learn recruitment, cheering for others, and handling victory and defeat.

Student Engagement
The sport is attracting students who usually don’t participate in extracurricular activities. K–12 educators says it boosts student inclusion and engagement throughout school.

Career Opportunities
Students can gain real-world experience that helps them qualify for internships, college scholarships and, eventually, a broad range of careers– from gaming referee or events management to computer programming and game design.

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