What if you could create the perfect problem setting for your students - one that immerses them fully, develops high-level cognitive skills, and sharpens decision-making and reaction times? What if the problem environment you created was personalised to give your students just-in-time feedback, reward them for good performance and encourages their development by setting challenges just difficult enough to not be frustrating, but incrementally harder than their last successful attempt? Imagine that this problem setting you’ve created encourages them to collaborate, develop social and emotional skills, helps shape their attitude to failure by developing reflection and resilience, and fosters inclusion and connectedness, all the while tapping into their innate interests and passions…
...enter Esports and Game-Based Learning.
You would be forgiven for thinking that esports is nothing more than a teenage pastime, or perhaps even a new fad that will be here today and gone tomorrow. However, esports is a rapidly growing, global industry with tournaments that attract interest from millions of people from around the world, both as players and spectators. But what exactly is it?
What started out as video-game competitions in convention centres more than two decades ago, has has established itself as a professional domain, and an integral part of sport and entertainment culture. Estimates suggest that esports will reach a worldwide audience of over 600 million people with projected revenues over $1,79 billion by 2023(1).
A place for scholastic esports?
This lucrative and growing industry has vast connections to sectors such as technology, STEM, sport, media and entertainment, with diverse roles such as game design, coding, data analytics, technical set up and management, streaming, event organization, marketing, social media and brand management, and more. These employment opportunities offered by the industry are in addition to those directly associated with the game-play itself, such as coaching, team management and esports athletics. This interconnected network of roles and contributors is referred to as the Esports Ecosystem.
Esports have now begun to find their place in educational settings, with many colleges having varsity esports teams, and a growing number offering esports scholarships. Now educators in schools are exploring the ways in which esports may offer students opportunities for learning, access to college, and a huge variety of pathways into industry.
Schools all over the world have begun delivering esports as extracurricular clubs, while some have chosen to embed it into their curricular learning. As such, there is a growing body of evidence that esports and digital game-based learning can offer huge potential for learning and development in scholastic settings including, but not limited to:
21st Century Skills – complex problem solving, creative, flexible and adaptive thinking
Social and Emotional Learning – resilience, persistence and ‘fail forward’ attitudes
STEM – system thinking, analysis & interpretation and reasoning & logic
Digital Literacy – creative communicators, computational thinkers, knowledge co-creators
Educators are particularly interested in exploring how esports may help students’ shape attitudes to failure, develop persistence and resilience, promote pro-social behaviors, increase school attendance and improve academic performance – impacts reported from scholastic esports programs. Furthermore, research from the field of cognitive science suggests a clear link between playing action video-games and the development of cognitive skills and abilities associated with improvements in STEM performance, decision-making and reaction time.
In our forthcoming blog series, we’ll be exploring the learning opportunities created by esports, and examining the evidence that suggests collaborative, competitive game-play in class can be a positive force for student learning and development.
Anderson, Craig & Tsaasan, A.M. & Reitman, Jason & Lee, Je Seok & Wu, Minnie & Steel, Holly & Turner, Tom & Steinkuehler, Constance. (2018). Understanding Esports as a STEM Career Ready Curriculum in the Wild. 1-6. 10.1109/VS-Games.2018.8493445.