The author of this article is Hank Chou, Associate Manager, Acer HQ
Traditionally, there’s a debate over video games having negative effects on kids as most people have the stereotype that gaming leads to increased violence and more deviant behavior. However, with video games having evolved from pure PC/Console single-player gaming to multiplayer online competitive gaming (in other words, esports), there are more facts and evidence showing that esports have a lot of benefits when it comes to the competitive and social aspects of gaming.
The benefits are pretty easy to see and understand, especially in the education scene. Schools play a vital role for kids’ development as the educational structure helps develop habits, skills, views, mindset that will foster students’ social, physical, mental, and academic abilities. As esports gains more popularity among young people, it’s a no brainer that schools can adopt this trend to leverage the benefits of esports to facilitate learning and boost students’ academic or career performance.
Communities Help Grow Esports, and Vice Versa
Esports is being built around communities across different game titles, collective interests, and the desire to meet and connect with similar-minded people. According to Niccolò Maisto, the co-founder and CEO of FaceIt: “It’s so natural that gamers should be connected with the community because esports basically grows with active communities. Community is the key of esports, and what differentiates it from traditional sports—esports is something that was born by community. It’s about taking a game beyond the session, and making it part of a lifestyle, building social connections, interactions and friendships. That’s how esports basically grows.”
Competitive play is deeply rooted in human nature. Sports, for example, are played competitively regardless of genre. In other words, playing competitively against others with the ambition to win is already part of our DNA. Similarly, since esports is competitive,gamers must have intention to join a community and find team members or opponents, thus creating a continuous pursuit for the sense of community and belonging.
Furthermore, there is significant evidence showing esports is growing super fast as the games market is projected to generate revenues of $189.3 billion in 2021 and the global live streaming audience is projected to pass 700 million this year. The huge growth of esports has fostered the growth of communities; moreover, the development of various gaming communities has started to represent a social identity, or, in other words, a unique lifestyle. This lifestyle manifests the culture of gamers and attracts more esports enthusiasts to join the community, facilitating the growth of esports to the next level.
Why Esports Communities Matter in Schools
As esports start to be considered as high-potential career options, it’s imperative to understand the importance of building up a pipeline for self-development (or career development) for student players on campus. By creating an esports-focused community in schools, students can connect their passion with their academic and personal goals, creating a well-nurtured environment for students to learn, improve in, and embrace different aspects of esports. From tournaments, teams, clubs, and scrims to coaches, team leaders and sponsors, these elements within an esports community will help establish a structured pipeline for students to learn, grow and develop.
Esports is able to improve collaboration and friendship between students by creating a sense of community. Unlike traditional sports, esports is inclusive to anyone regardless of gender, age, and physical strength. Therefore, it allows any student who is interested in esports to join the same community to cooperate, connect, and engage with other similar-minded peers.
Through the esports community, students can develop STEM skills or support more effective STEM learning because esports consists of teamwork, problem-solving, data science, internet technology, and coding. For example, students who are enthusiastic about esports often dig into their games trying to improve their skills and performance. They tend to try and understand the data or try and dive into team mechanics to increase win rate. This process itself is a way of learning. That’s why there are more schools using esports as a learning platform.
From a social standpoint, the esports community encourages teamwork, which will end up helping students adapt to society after graduation. It also teaches students sportsmanship and how to respect opponents even in a loss. How to deal with failure and frustration is a lesson that everyone should learn as early as possible in their life. Esports also brings social interaction for students who are not good at getting along with others. Even the WHO worked with game companies during the COVID-19 pandemic for a #PlayApartTogether campaign, urging people to stay at home gaming together because esports provides a socializing experience even when social distancing is required.
Career development is also another benefit. School communities can help students figure out their paths in the esports industry. Students are empowered to learn through participating in esports communities as they need to manage teams, host tournaments, analyze gameplay, etc., and this process will help develop capabilities and readiness for their future career. Besides, they will get access to different career paths of esports as they will personally experience those jobs including securing sponsorships, carrying out tournaments, producing event broadcasts, etc. This hands-on experience will allow exploration and discovery of ideal jobs for students so that they’ll be able to envision careers in the rapidly growing gaming and esports industry.
A good starting point for students who want to enter the world of esports is creating a profile on specific social platforms. Acer’s Planet9.gg, for example, can help students establish their gamers’ identities and create a sense of achievement. In fact, Planet9 allows players to connect with peers within a broad online community, thus creating new relationships and stimulating teamwork and competition.