Esports in education

Some 20 years ago I started a gaming club in the college I worked in using a couple of games consoles.  It quickly grew and changed from a leisure activity to something a little more competitive with matches set up to find the best gamer.   Fast forward 20 years and esports is now a significant business but in my opinion it hasn’t yet developed the foothold in schools and colleges that it deserves.

I suspect a big part of this is that many in schools still look at esports as “gaming”, as a leisure activity involving simply playing computer games and having fun.    I don’t think this does esports justice as it doesn’t take into consideration some of the key skills which esports has the potential to develop in students.

Strategy

Most of the esports games involve students working in teams and therefore, like in conventional sports like football, there is a need for strategy.   Will the team go all out attack, or sit back in defence?   How will each player help the team to succeed?     The development of match strategy and also the refining and adjustment of this strategy in game is key to a successful esports team.

Communication

Linked to the above is the importance of communication.   Esports competitions can be rather frenetic with a need for team members to share situational and strategic information efficiently at speed.   A team which effectively communicates both prior to and during matches is much more likely to succeed.

Teamwork

As a team sport the importance of team work is key in esports.   An effective team is likely to be more successful than the sum of its individual players.    Each player needs to be able to work with the others in the team, appreciating their needs and their situation within the game before working towards the success of the team as a whole.

Competition and Sportsmanship

Again, as in traditional sports, esports competitions allow students to develop the skills needed to manage challenges and difficulties as presented by a competitive environment.    They can help students develop resilience plus the all important sportsmanship skills in dealing graciously with both victory but also defeat.

For me esports is an important addition to schools or colleges activity programme and even to their academic provision through the likes of the recently launched esports BTec qualifications.  

One closing note though, I do continue to see esports competitions and involvement being dominated by male students;   It would be nice if we could encourage more girls to get involved.

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Author: garyhenderson2014

Gary Henderson is currently the Director of IT in an Independent school in the UK. Prior to this he worked as the Head of Learning Technologies working with public and private schools across the Middle East. This includes leading the planning and development of IT within a number of new schools opening in the UAE. As a trained teacher with over 15 years working in education his experience includes UK state secondary schools, further education and higher education, as well as experience of various international schools teaching various curricula. This has led him to present at a number of educational conferences in the UK and Middle East.

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