From the Game Room to the Classroom: How Esports Can Prepare Students for Career Success
Gaming has come a long way from 80s-era arcade machines of Pong and Pac-Man to today’s virtual reality multiplayer games. While the industry has certainly evolved over the past several decades, perhaps the most significant shift has been the inclusion of video gaming in classrooms.
The meteoric rise of competitive video gaming, or esports, has contributed to its increased popularity in school settings. Esports viewship has grown exponentially since the mid-2010s, to an audience of nearly half a billion today. Platforms like Twitch and YouTube make it easy for fans to watch live coverage of events, much like traditional sports enthusiasts do with their favorite teams. Esports competitions are major revenue drivers for many industries, and educators are taking note. Some universities offer scholarships to top players, and esports leagues are popping up in middle and high schools across North America in response to the growing demand.
While esports is trendy, it’s critical to consider the value a club or class can bring to your school and how it can help prepare students for college and career success.
Esports Benefits in the Classroom
Traditional sports, like football and basketball, have been a mainstay in high schools and colleges as far back as the late 1800s. ( 1 ) The benefits of playing sports are numerous. Student-athletes tend to demonstrate more leadership and time management skills than their non-athlete peers, giving them a competitive edge in their future careers. ( 2 )
Students who participate in esports reap similar advantages. Just like on a traditional sports team, being part of an esports program helps them develop collaboration skills and builds a sense of camaraderie. Studies show that kids involved in extracurricular activities have higher attendance and graduation rates, are more likely to pay attention in class and engage in fewer harmful behaviors like drinking or smoking than those who don’t participate in clubs or sports.
Unlike traditional sports, esports tends to be more inclusive. Students who don’t excel at the competitive aspect of esports can still participate in other ways, such as maintaining the gaming software and hardware or streaming the games. Kids don’t have to be the brightest in their class to learn the valuable skills that come with playing esports, including:
- Good sportsmanship: Students learn how to be humble winners and gracious losers and treat teammates and competitors with respect.
- Social skills: Being part of a team helps kids learn how to communicate, compromise and cooperate.
- Strategic thinking: Esports requires students to set goals, evaluate the competition and put together game plans to succeed.
- Time management: Kids must balance their academic course load with their extracurricular activities to continue participating.
These skills are in high demand beginning at the collegiate level, something that Joshua Kell, CEO of Horizon AVL, has noticed in his work with universities. He says careers in everything from content creation to software development to graphic design to public relations are growing as the industry itself grows. Colleges are looking for students with expertise in these related fields as they begin to offer majors and minors in the esports realm. “One thing that we hear from these universities is ‘Well, now that we have this program, where do we pull these students from? What students have programs like this at a high school level or even a middle school level? What is the progression?’ So that is where we need to start working on the K-12 side at developing a proper path.”
The experience students gain from being involved in esports can also help them succeed in the working world. Esports itself is becoming a viable career path, with top players earning up to millions of dollars per year from competitions.( 3 )
Students don’t have to become professional players to utilize the skills they learned from esports, however. Employers in industries from information technology to broadcasting and beyond are looking for employees who have experience working with hardware and software and can collaborate well with others, just a few of the strengths that esports players bring to the table.
Esports: A Recipe for Student Success
High school, and even middle school, can serve as the proving ground for students interested in esports-related careers and help them explore job options that may not exist today but will be crucial in an increasingly digital world.
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- Pruter, R. 2013. The Rise of American High School Sports and the Search for Control: 1880-1930. [Report]
- National Athletic Trainers’ Association. 2020. The Benefits of High School and Youth Sports. [Report]
- Nordmark, S. and Heath, J. 2020, September 2. The biggest prize money winners in esports history. [News]
About the Author
Ashley Wallinger is a content marketing specialist at Trox. She began her career in broadcast journalism, working as a producer at two TV stations, where she created content for news broadcasts and digital platforms. She has since held roles as a digital copywriter for a marketing agency, as well as a social media specialist overseeing content creation and analytics for the Scottsdale Unified School District in Scottsdale, Arizona. Her background and profile can be found on LinkedIn.