Video games were once derided by teachers and considered a distraction in the classroom. This feeling is shared by many parents, with around 86% of them agreeing that their kids are spending too much time gaming. While there are arguments for and against it, there’s a rising trend in the number of schools using video games as educational tools. Esports in education uses an appetite for video games to introduce youngsters to concepts like leadership, team-building, and social awareness. It’s become a useful tool for enriching STEM study, but it can also be used to support language learning and history lessons.
Esports in Early Learning
The kindergarten of today is a markedly different place than the nursery classes of yesteryear. While Montessori toys still have their place in these preschool settings, educators are waking up to the benefits of bringing video games into the classroom.
It’s predicted that coding will become a staple part of middle school syllabuses in the years to come. Most experts agree that kids can take up coding as early as age seven. However, the fundamentals of coding can be introduced to youngsters much earlier than that.
Educational games have long been used to introduce basic math and literacy concepts to preschoolers. Nowadays, they can also be used to roll out rudimentary coding principles to kids. There’s also evidence to suggest that gaming in education can improve things like memory skills and hand-eye coordination.
Esports in Higher Education
The statistics are clear – pretty much every teen plays games. In fact, some surveys suggest that as many as 86% of teens in the United States play games on consoles like the PlayStation and Xbox. When you factor in web-based games and mobile-only titles, that number rises to 97%.
Rather than dismiss this appetite for gaming, many high schools are encouraging amateur esports, recognizing that competitive gaming yields many of the same benefits as other extracurricular activities.
You only need to look at the Rocket League tournament schedule to see that esports represents a lucrative career prospect for gamers. In 2019, Andrea Radovanović became the youngest Rocket League professional of all time when he joined the Team Vitality roster.
Esports programs are also on the rise in colleges and universities. In the United
States, as many as 170 different institutions are offering esports degrees. These programs prepare video game enthusiasts for an actual career in esports. They’re not just a cash grab, either. Esports scholarships are now offered alongside traditional sporting scholarships. Combined, these scholarships total more than $16 million.
The line between esports and conventional sports is becoming increasingly blurred. Varsity esports has been around since at least 2009. Today, more than 70 colleges operate varsity esports programs. Meanwhile, the High School Esports League lets younger games get in on the action. These varsity leagues are often intertwined with esports educational programs. In 2016, the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) was established, cementing the credibility of esports as a viable career path.