E-sports, or electronic sports, have exploded in popularity over the past few years and have become a legitimate form of competition, with professional leagues and players, sponsorships, and even Olympic recognition. But e-sports can also have a valuable role in education, especially for students who are passionate about gaming.
Teamwork and Communication
One of the main benefits of e-sports in education is that they can help students develop teamwork and communication skills. E-sports teams often consist of players from different backgrounds and locations who must work together to strategize and execute their game plan. This requires strong communication and collaboration skills, which can translate to other areas of life and learning.
E-sports can also promote teamwork by requiring players to divide responsibilities and roles within their team. For example, some players may be responsible for certain strategic tasks, while others may be responsible for more technical tasks such as setting up equipment or maintaining communication channels. This division of labor requires players to work together and communicate effectively in order to achieve success.
E-sports can also provide opportunities for students to practice and develop their communication skills through coaching and mentorship. For example, students who are more experienced or skilled in a particular game may be able to coach and mentor their peers, helping them to improve their skills and become more effective team players.
Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
E-sports can also promote critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Many popular e-sports games, such as League of Legends and Overwatch, require players to make quick decisions and adapt to changing situations. This type of fast-paced, strategic thinking can help students develop these important skills.
For example, players may need to analyze their opponent's strategies and choose the best course of action in response. This can involve identifying and evaluating different options, predicting the likely outcomes of each option, and selecting the one that is most likely to succeed. This type of strategic thinking requires players to engage in higher-order thinking and problem-solving skills.
In addition, e-sports can also promote problem-solving skills by requiring players to troubleshoot technical issues or adapt to unexpected events. For example, players may need to quickly identify and fix problems with their equipment or come up with creative solutions to overcome obstacles in the game. This type of problem-solving can help students develop their critical thinking and problem-solving skills in a fast-paced, high-stress environment.
Community and Breaking Traditions
In addition to these cognitive benefits, e-sports can also provide a sense of community and belonging for students who may not feel connected to traditional school activities. E-sports clubs and teams can provide a social outlet for students who are interested in gaming, and they can also foster a sense of teamwork and camaraderie.
E-sports can foster a sense of teamwork and camaraderie among players. By working together to strategize and execute their game plan, e-sports teams can develop a sense of unity and shared purpose. This can help students feel more connected to their teammates and to the e-sports community as a whole.
E-sports can also provide a sense of accomplishment and achievement for students who may not feel as successful in traditional school activities. For example, students who excel in e-sports may feel a sense of pride and accomplishment in their achievements, which can help boost their confidence and self-esteem.
Careers and Industry of Tomorrow
Finally, e-sports can also serve as a stepping stone for students who are interested in pursuing careers in the gaming industry. From game design and development to e-sports coaching and management, there are many career opportunities in this rapidly growing field. Participating in e-sports in school can help students gain valuable experience and skills that can be useful in pursuing these types of careers. For example, students who participate in e-sports may develop skills such as strategic thinking, teamwork, and problem-solving, which are all valuable in the gaming industry.
E-sports can also provide students with an opportunity to network and make connections in the gaming industry. For example, students who participate in e-sports may have the opportunity to meet professionals in the industry, such as game developers or e-sports coaches, and learn about potential career paths.
E-sports can also serve as a platform for students to showcase their skills and talent to potential employers or recruiters. For example, students who excel in e-sports may be able to use their achievements and accomplishments to demonstrate their expertise and potential to potential employers.
E-sports have the potential to provide a range of benefits for students, from developing teamwork and communication skills to fostering a sense of community and preparing for careers in the gaming industry. As such, educators and school administrators should consider the value of incorporating e-sports into their curricula and extracurricular activities.
Here in New Jersey, we have an organization called Garden State ESports, founded by Chris Aviles. Garden State Esports is a nonprofit organization that serves as the organizing body of scholastic esports in the state of New Jersey. Its mission is to provide high-quality, student-centered experiences through esports that help students grow socially, emotionally, and academically. The organization aims to empower students and coaches to create safe, inclusive spaces through self-advocacy and bystander intervention training. It also seeks to connect gaming with social and emotional learning, health and wellness, and digital citizenship, and to provide opportunities for students to learn about career pathways in the esports ecosystem. Garden State Esports works with school districts to align their goals with its vision, and also supports community organizations such as libraries, religious and community centers, and after-school programs that want to use esports as a teaching tool. The organization values learning, opportunity, community, and diversity, and aims to foster a strong community of interconnected scholastic athletes who demonstrate leadership, accountability, commitment, and teamwork.