Last year I wrote a blog post entitled Ready Player One where I looked at esports within education. Members of the CESI mailing list will know that I have contributed emails to that list concerning the setting up of an esports league for Irish schools. I also presented on this same topic at the CESI conference back in March. I hope to bring together teachers and schools who are interested in organizing esports leagues. (There is a form to register those interested in taking part)
So, you are a teacher in the staffroom supping a cup of tea reading this blog post, and you are thinking, why does your school need an esports program. Let me tell you why.
Esports is booming. Ask your class(es) how many of them play video games cooperatively with their friends. Esports is not just a participation activity as platforms like Twitch give a wider audience for gameplay. Viewership (ignoring participation) of esports competitions is surpassing the viewership of Major League Baseball in the US. During the lockdown, nearly all US college esports leagues completed their season while field sports fell away. Worldwide there is a very strong esports presence at the third level, including in Ireland. In 2020, there was $100million worth of scholarships offered to second-level/high school students to entice them to sign for a competitive university esports team. Only this week, I came across an esports scholarship offered by Waterford Institute of Technology.
Dear teacher, at some stage, you are going to have to make either, a plan or a ban.
To assist students in reaching their potential, we encourage them to participate in extracurricular activities. It is clear that involvement in extracurriculars at school leads to better student development and learning. Providing proper support for esports can make them as valid as any other extracurricular activity.
Still, you might just have students wanting to play video games the same way you might get students willing to have a kick-about behind the bicycle sheds at lunchtime. This is a valid hang out with their friends.
Based on feedback in the US, students realize that they may not be proficient enough to play at a high level, and so like the F1 in Schools programme, opportunities arise as team managers, video analysts, streamers, or other roles that could lead to full-time career in the sport.
This resource from British esports can be useful to explain esports to parents or teachers. If this piques your interest, please complete form above.
At some stage in your teaching career, you would have been given the advice “Teach where kids are at” why not “Play where the kids are at”.