Connecting Students to School Culture and Career Opportunities Through Broad Access to Esports and Gaming: So All Can Learn Through Play

Connecting Students to School Culture and Career Opportunities Through Broad Access to Esports and Gaming: So All Can Learn Through Play

John P. McCarthy
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-7069-2.ch001
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It is important to offer students an esports program that maximizes participation by the large potential pool of gamers. Such inclusive programs include clubs, intramurals, and/or courses in addition to a varsity team that competes with other schools. The benefits of such programs include building skills in digital citizenship and global professional skills (GPS) such as collaboration, communication, problem solving, and creativity. Areas in social emotional learning (SEL) can be well served through esports programs as there are many students who build positive relationships with peers, adults, and with their academics as studies have shown. This chapter explores three areas regarding esports: building a sense of belonging in school culture, developing digital citizenship skills through esports, and focusing on esports programs not esports teams.
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Building A Sense Of Belonging In School Culture

There are children and teens spending hours shooting baskets at a playground court or hitting a ball against a wall with a racket. There are many who sit behind a computer, game console, or mobile device practicing skills in the esport they love. Both groups share the same dream. Someday they are going to play professionally or working in the related field.

Esports and competitive casual gaming are appearing in mostly middle and high schools, with elementary schools starting to lay the groundwork to provide opportunities for their students. Many middle and high schools establish an esports teams that are like traditional sports in purpose, which is to represent their school through competing with other schools in tournaments, leagues, and state titles. These experiences can have positive benefits for students through building community, networking with players from other teams, developing a consistent work ethic, and building opportunities for college recruitment and related scholarships.

Some schools seek to expand access to a larger community of gamers through clubs and intramural programs. A survey of teens in a Pew Research Center study (Anderson and Jiang, 2018) found that 97% of boys and 83% of girls play video games. One teacher, who sponsors a gamer club in Philadelphia, shared on a panel discussion at the ISTE conference (2019) that he received over a hundred respondents for just an information session about the “possibility” of launching a club. Educators at other schools across the United States echo similar experiences of receiving higher than expected interest in a competitive gaming club. In hindsight, these educators would realize that the demand should not be surprising.

High school esports can be found in some structure in many countries. In the United States alone, there are active high school teams or intramural in every state. Grassroot organizations continue to grow as many see the demand for access to competitive play. National organizations such as NACEF, HSEL, and PlayVS claim to support middle and high schools across the United States. Other countries such as Sweden are actively growing programs.

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