Should high schools have an esports program?

Esports or competitive video gaming is a form of sport competition using video games. Esports often take the form of organized events.

Those competitions take place either through online events or in-person ‘LAN’ events.

Where fans gather in the hundreds of thousands to view their favorite team compete on the biggest of the world’s Esports stages for massive prizes.

A high percentage of those fans are between the ages of 13 and 28, and compete or take part in electronic games or Esports themselves at home or in a local gaming team.

These local teams often compete in amateur tournaments. Where they dedicate their time and skills to hopefully become more well known and move on to a professional level.

But, there can also be problems with too many of these local amateur teams starting up with no research or plan on how to progress and continuously improve, this results in hundreds of teams just like them, without a structured environment where they grow.

In South Africa alone, according to The Digital Gaming League or DGL. Who hosts SA’s biggest Counter Strike Global Offensive League. “There is over 6, 800 teams in SA.” That is a great number of teams. Each aspiring to become professional and bag the biggest of sponsors.

This commonly results in almost all of these teams failing and often hurting the players, as there was no return on the time invested.

So how does a local CSGO team, where majority of the players range between 14-18 years old, become as big and as well known as Astralis for example?

Well, one answer to that problem is, for high schools to host or manage an Esports program of their own.

We have classes and courses for how to manage a business, compete in traditional sports, however, we have little to no methods for these individuals to learn how to improve or function as part of a team where each player has to motivate themselves to improve.

In traditional sports, the sponsors weren’t nearly as invested and the variety of the sponsors was a much shorter list.

With Esports, those sponsors can reach a younger target group then they would have by other means.

The ESBD VP makes this known with the example of soccer clubs, who complain about the loss of memberships in towns and villages. Esports, on the other hand, are only growing. 

An article on Bussiness Insider states that the viewership of Esports and its competitive games grow by an annual rate of 9%. Meaning that by 2023, the competitive video game industry should be worth about 646 Million.

One of the reasons that Esports is growing so rapidly is due to the fact that, it is a new form of profession. Where the team, can operate as a business. Managing its organization online, from their own home.

 That gives the team the ability to compete from anywhere. And it leads to each player, motivating themselves even more to work harder and be better.

The players/team can play together from all around the world. Your top lane player can be in London, and your in Scotland for example. 20 years ago, that was not possible.

Everyone had to be together to compete in a tournament. Esports has brought about a world of technological improvements, from the ability to compete together from all across the world, to improvements in computers and internet speeds.

Schools, especially high schools are about preparing their learners for life and assisting them in getting  good jobs through high marks and achievements in sports.

So how, will having a Esports programme at a high school, help a student achieve not just better grades, but also assist in overcoming day to day issues they may face?

Part 1: How gaming assists in overcoming anxiety.

BBC Uk wrote an article on using gaming to overcome anxiety:

Basically they say that, anxiety makes it feel your goals are unachievable, before you even set them and that your doomed to fail at everything.

A qoute taken from the article:

“Using video games as a form of mental health therapy isn’t actually a new idea. The game designer and author Jane McGonigal has written about the positive effects gaming can have on depression. Multiple studies have shown that gaming stimulates two pretty important regions of the brain: one “associated with motivation and goal-orientation” and one “associated with learning and memory”. Basically, the studies found that gaming worked by first setting up a challenge, a quest line to be tackled, and then rewarding you for completing them. For anyone who’s ever experienced anxiety, where everyday tasks seem insurmountable and the only reward at the end of the path is another day living with your mental health issue, a fantasy world where plotlines are resolved is a pretty easy sell.”

Anxiety makes you think your goals are unachievable even before you’ve set them, that projects you’re half way through are doomed to fail, and that all your past achievements are just that, in the past, never to be repeated. Your internal reward system shrinks, your motivation ebbs, and withdrawal, from society or activities you used to enjoy, may naturally seem like the best option. So gaming, with its preset quest lines and inbuilt reward system, seems like a pretty decent way to re-engage, reboot, and regain your sense of self.”

Many students then took to responding to her blog, saying that gaming, helped with time management, escaping stress from their peers. As well as helped them gain the courage to go for therapy. To make new friends and learn to deal with peer pressure better.

Part 2: How gaming helps with depression:

Many students face bullying in school, those bullies threaten them and make them feel less  about themselves. They then take to gaming, where can find help in online communities.

These communities do not judge them for being overweight , having acne or being poor. They say that gaming is their safe space.

Healthy Gamer. Org says:

That is why games are appealing to them, and that is how they use video games to cope with depression.

Data from fMRI scans show that gaming suppresses negative emotions. This is why video games are so effective at helping people cope with depression. They shut off the negative emotion circuitry in your brain, and stop you from feeling sad, ashamed, or lonely.”

So with online gaming, they have ability to escape and be in a happy place that they can be themselves in.

Part 3: How gaming can be educational

Video games dont just have to be fun, or competitive, they can be educational as well. They give learners the ability to gain skills, that may be harder to gain in other ways or from other places.

These skills, gained from gaming include:

1: Video games promote technology exploration

2: Can cause reluctant readers to become varacious reads

3: Helps children to develop patienace through repetition

4: Develops problem solving skills.

5: Helps with individualized learning

6: Develops hand and eye coordinations

7: Children can learn valuable coding and computer skills

8: Learn to be persistent in reaching their goals

9: Learning spatial reasoning

10: Teaches the child how to strategize

11: Learning one skill in game, can then lead to it being used in the real world.

12: Develops reasoning and logic skills

13: Learning history through games set in historical eras.

14: Creative writing skills

15: Developing social skills.

Having stated, how esports/gaming on its own can help a learner not only improve their school work, but also overcome issues they face in their day to day lives.

Now take that picture and place into a programme designed to do just, for not just a single student. But several groups of them. Well them all do better and learn necessary skills for adult lives.

Esports programmes, will help with the above mentioned and the ability to able to compete in a sport they love and make friends just like them. All well bringing in funding for the school.

Thank you for reading our blog.

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