Why schools are embracing eSports

The march of eSports appears unstoppable. Gamers are becoming stars and major events are packing out stadiums. Schools are implementing their own clubs and programs to the dismay of many traditionalists. However, this new eSport revolution should be welcomed. Here’s why.
eSports arena filled with people
eSports has become an event know to fill arenas. Photo: BagoGames

A booming market

eSports is big business. There are now world cups for major games such as FIFA , a League of Legends World Championship. US teenager Kyle Giersdorf recently won $3million at the Fortnite World Cup. We’ve even seen crossovers between the world of real and online sports such as the GT Academy which gives gamers a chance to race in the 24 Hours of Le Man. This year one of the gamers made it onto the podium.

As well as being extremely popular evidence is growing of the value it can have in education. Staffordshire University recently launched the UK’s first eSports degree. Their research shows that eSports can help pupils aim higher. Respondents from a study in which students took part in an eSports event showed that they were more likely to take part in physical sports, became more interested in computing subjects and strengthened bonds of friendship with other players.

Staffordshire University
Staffordshire University offers a full-time undergraduate eSports degree. Photo: Tim Heaton

Even so, critics can be found everywhere. In Canada opposition politicians reacted angrily to eSport programs in schools, saying they encourage cyber dependence. Others, meanwhile, say that esports should not be even considered a legitimate sport alongside the likes of football, athletics and rugby.

However, such arguments reflect an outdated view of video games. Today’s games are connected, interactive and challenging. They require imagination, teamwork and leadership, all things which schools are desperate to promote.

Gone are the days where playing video games meant locking yourself away in your room for hours at a time. Now you can communicate and collaborate with players from around the world.

There is prestige in eSports, and we’re seeing the creation of a new kind of jock for the digital age; one in which video game players can become as celebrated as the school’s best footballers. It helps people to develop teamwork, problem-solving skills and make new connections.

The risks of eSports

That’s not to say they are free of risk entirely. It’s important to recognise the potential problems of excessive computer use. The World Health Organisation now recognises gaming disorders as a serious condition. Sufferers struggle to control their game time finding it affecting their work and social lives.

eSports is big business
Competitive eSports are now packing out stadiums. Photo: lyncconf.com

Like anything in life, the devil is in the execution. Gaming addictions are a real problem, but when used effectively schools and families can use esports to lure students away from sedentary non-interactive activities. They can improve social skills and give people a whole new interest in sports, computers, and education.

The old stereotypes are dying. In their place comes a realisation that eSports can be a fantastic boost for education, fitness and social wellbeing.

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