How Esports Prepares Students for the Future

edited January 9 in Education

Esports is competitive video gaming played at a professional level. While playing video games has historically been viewed as a leisure activity, modern competitive gaming shares many similarities with traditional sports like football. International leagues, highly paid teams, fans, as well as lucrative sponsorships are all features of the esports (electronic sports) scene today. Esports is a great platform to help students develop skills for their future. From education to socialization, and career opportunities, the diverse benefits of esports make it something that schools need to consider for holistic student development and future preparedness.

What is esports?

With its origins in late 70s arcade gaming, esports is now predominantly PC based. Esports players are highly trained game playing athletes, often specializing in a specific video game title. These titles include video games that are popular with the game playing public, creating a huge fanbase for competitive esports. Media coverage, coaches, team identity and branding, as well as dedicated training facilities are all integral to the contemporary esports landscape.

Since the 80s, consoles and PCs have made video games available to children in their homes, 24/7. Due to the sedentary nature of gaming, as well as the questionable content and benefits of playing video games, many children have been chastised along the lines of, “You’re never going to get paid for sitting on the couch playing video games.”

Now might be a good time for parents and educators alike to adjust their preconceptions regarding video games. In this article we will discuss the role of esports in education and how esports can help to increase students’ academic performance, as well as encourage socialization and emotional well-being. Furthermore, esports can equip students with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) skills that are in ever increasing demand in the digital economy.

Understanding esports

To better understand the role of esports in schools today, let’s first briefly cover its history and growth. While esports may seem like a recent arrival, it has actually been around for a while. The first Spacewar video game tournament was held at Stanford in 1972, and since then, esports has evolved into a global phenomenon. 

 Jumping forward to 1980, Atari’s National Space Invaders Championship attracted over 10,000 competitors, crowning Rebecca Ann Heineman (née William Salvador Heineman) as the first national video game champion. Early 1990s esports competitions included the 1990 Nintendo World Championships, where players competed at Super Mario Bros., Rad Racer, and Tetris. As the 90s progressed, increased accessibility to cheaper, more powerful computer hardware as well as the explosion of the internet provided platforms where gamers could compete. Esports classics including Counter-Strike (1999) originated during this fertile period in network gaming. Widespread availability of powerful PCs and fast internet access has helped the global popularity of esports to soar in recent decades, greatly contributing to the ongoing growth of the industry.

Growth of esports today

The global esports market is projected to grow from $1.45 billion in 2022 to $1.72 billion this year. Aside from its economic force, esports also plays an important role in connecting players, fans and the esports community worldwide. The dynamic esports viewing environment includes social media interactions, live chats and VR (virtual reality) experiences. The broadcast, competitive nature of esports encourages the development of digital literacy among professional players and fans alike. This in turn has created career opportunities within the burgeoning esports field, from content creators to commentators. On top of this, esports showcases technological innovations, influencing the wider digital landscape and bringing gaming and esports into mainstream culture.

Video games and trends come and go, but looking at this list of the most popular esports games by viewership, there are several titles that have endured the sands of time, adapting and innovating over the years. Esports games at the top of the roster include League of Legends, Counter-Strike, Valorant, and Dota 2.

Esports vs. traditional gaming

While many parents, educators and people in positions of responsibility may still frown upon gaming, the truth is that gaming tournaments and esports in general can actually enhance students’ academic performance.

Firstly, at-home gaming is what springs to mind for many non-gamers when they hear the word esports. Home gaming is the activity of playing video games in the comfort of your home, in contrast to public gaming in esports areas or arcades. While many esports competitors do compete from home, organized esports competitions are big events held in large arenas, with multiple large screens, audience and commentators. Tournaments and peer connections are a stand out feature of esports: students compete alongside team members both virtually and in person. Their teammates and competitors could be in the same classroom, or on the other side of the world.

Many educational institutions now recognize the benefits of esports in schools. High school and collegiate esports programs provide gaming education to students, who then represent their schools in competition. Beyond competition, esports can also be integrated into the wider curriculum. By incorporating gaming into STEM classes, subject specific skills, as well as teamwork and leadership skills can all be nurtured through esports in the school setting. In order to organize and host competitions for the ever increasing number of schools with esports teams, several gaming organizations have been established. The main high school and college esports gaming organizations are the High School Esports League (HSEL) and National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE).

Academic and personal development through esports

Esports aren’t easy. They stimulate students’ cognitive abilities, including critical thinking, problem solving, creativity and strategic planning. These are transferable skills required by learners, the future employees in the digital landscape of the 21st century. Team based esports require players to strategize and cooperate as a seamless unit, this can help students to develop teamwork and leadership skills, applicable in academic and professional settings. Communication is also a key part of successful esports campaigns, both during the heat of the game, and after the arena is closed. Sportsmanship is another skill that can only be learned through experience, and esports tournaments are a place where players quickly learn to celebrate success with humility and accept defeat with dignity.

Schools with esports programs also reap the rewards of social and emotional benefits. Esports creates a sense of community and belonging by helping individual students with a passion for gaming to connect with like-minded peers. Teenagers and college students alike benefit greatly from positive mentors and role models: esports facilitates these personal connections across various game titles and interests. Esports tournaments operate on a local and global scale, bringing together students from diverse backgrounds, countries and cultures. Unlike traditional track and field sports, esports players’ shared passion for gaming overcomes gender and age barriers as well as physical limitations.

Players and parents take note! Gaming in moderation, as part of a healthy lifestyle is the key to reaping the benefits we have discussed above. Excessive gaming and esports can negate most, if not all of the advantages, resulting in decreased academic performance, and even antisocial behavior.

Career opportunities in the booming esports industry

There are many esports career pathways available in the industry, from professional players to behind the scenes developers and streamers. First, let's look at educational pathways through esports. Esports tournaments offer significant scholarships and an increasing number of universities recruit students to participate on their esports teams. HSEL alone has distributed over $600,000 in scholarships, and hundreds of colleges and universities across America now offer esports scholarships to promising players. The time is now for aspiring student gamers to follow both their gaming and educational dreams.

Beyond college, esports helps students develop STEM skills that are highly sought after in today’s digital economy. By exploring STEM concepts, students holistically gain confidence with digital technology. In line with their interest in esports, pursuits such as keeping up to date with computers can stretch as far as learning about building computers, and even video game programming. STEM skills aside, esports educate students to think critically, approach problem solving creatively, and use information in innovative ways. Esports requires teamwork, collaboration and effective strategizing, all skills valued by employers worldwide. These soft skills and professional skills can open doors in many fields, from technology to catering.

Many student athletes aspire to play in the NFL, or MLB but in reality, few do. Similarly in esports, for many players, the ultimate goal is to compete professionally at Super Smash Brothers, or League of Legends. While not everyone will be the next Johan Sundstein, aka N0tail, there are many other rewarding career opportunities in the esports industry. Like traditional sports, esports needs coaches, team managers, as well as broadcasters and journalists, and streamers. Esports event organizers, hosts and marketing and video game development are also crucial roles in the swiftly growing industry.

The importance of the right equipment in esports

For amateur and professional gamers alike, access to specialized gaming PCs can mean the difference between a win and a loss. Regular PCs are designed to meet the needs of a wide range of general-purpose computing tasks. Perfectly suitable for everyday work tasks, most regular PCs feature integrated graphics, standard CPUs as well as sufficient RAM for multitasking. These regular PCs, however, may not suffice when it comes to the requirements of modern gaming.

Gaming PCs feature dedicated graphics cards to consistently render high quality graphics, and higher end CPUs to process the large scale, intricate environments of modern games. To ensure smooth, glitch free gameplay, gaming PCs feature larger amounts of RAM, as well as SSD storage to reduce loading time. During esports events, one small glitch, lag in gameplay, or faulty controller can result in competition loss, at no fault of the player. Reputation and confidence aside, cash prizes can also be at stake in the higher echelons of competitive esports. Having the right equipment is crucial to a successful esports program.

Many schools simply don’t have the budget to splash out on gaming PCs, monitors, keyboards and controllers. Starting from the ground up, budget conscious esports programs may choose to opt for refurbished gaming PCs. These are pre-owned PCs that have been professionally refurbished, offering gaming performance at a fraction of the cost of new hardware, while reducing electronic waste.

Acer’s gaming devices

Acer, the official sponsor of the Intel Extreme Masters esports tournament, the longest running global pro gaming tour in the world, currently has two gaming product lines for esports: Acer Nitro and Acer Predator. These lines both offer gaming laptops as well as monitors, desktops and peripherals. The Nitro series offers high performance at a reasonable price, while Predator offers premium technology designed to provide exceptional gaming experiences.

First launched in 2017, Acer Nitro is a series of budget gaming computers for gamers who demand high-performance machines at an approachable price point. The Nitro series includes desktops, laptops, monitors, and other accessories and competes with other midrange computers. Acer also has a wide range of gaming monitors and a desktop machine under the Nitro brand.

Nitro devices are priced in the mainstream range and Predator devices are in the premium range. Acer Nitro provides a decent balance between price and performance, while Acer Predator offers pro-level gaming performance and superior technology. Curious which of these lines suits your school’s gaming needs? Find out more in this deep dive into the differences between the Nitro and Predator ranges.

The takeaway

Today’s booming esports industry has evolved into a multi-billion dollar market, forecast for further growth. Much more than just playing games, esports has an important role to play in preparing students for their future. Students have a unique opportunity to get involved with esports, which can benefit their cognitive abilities, and foster teamwork and leadership skills. What’s more, the borderless, international esports community connects players regardless of location, bringing together students from diverse backgrounds, and overcoming barriers of gender, race and age.

Esports offers various career pathways, including significant scholarships and chances to represent colleges in esports events. STEM skills that esports helps to develop are crucial in the increasingly digital economy. Esports are also a key part of holistic student development as well as future preparedness. Gaming really can open doors to a range of potential careers.

To ensure optimal performance, access to specialized gaming PCs is crucial for esports players of all levels. From refurbished gaming PCs to laptops in the Acer Nitro and Predator range, the right gaming PC provides students with a solid foundation to hone their esports skills on.

Edmund is an English copywriter based in New Taipei City, Taiwan. He is a widely published writer and translator with two decades of experience in the field of bridging linguistic and cultural gaps between Chinese and English.


Stay Up to Date

Get the latest news by subscribing to Acer Corner in Google News.