Excitement hangs in the air as players face off in a massive sporting arena. “We definitely saw a really good match there,” says one of the commentators while declaring the winner. Sound like your run-of-the-mill sports game? It nearly is—except the arena is virtual, and the players, ranging in age from 13 to 25, present as fantastical video game avatars. This game marked the start of Stride’s E-sports Summer Camp, a 9-week virtual multiplayer competition with popular video games such as Fortnite, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and League of Legends. With Stride’s many e-sports opportunities all year-round and the sport’s growing popularity internationally, it may be time to turn your video-game-loving child into an e-sports athlete!
What is E-sports?
E-sports games will pull in an estimated 29.6 million monthly viewers in 2022, Insider Intelligence reports. Treated like any other sport—with organized play against fellow players, tournament advancements, and live broadcasts—e-sports’ explosion in popularity has the new sport often exceeding the viewership of professional football and basketball games. Gamers of all ages can play a variety of video games competitively and join e-sports leagues, transforming a once solitary pastime into a competitive display of teamwork and problem-solving. Don’t be fooled by the lack of running legs and face-to-face contact: e-sports has many benefits, ranging from mental and social skills to your child’s future career.
1. Develop Valuable STEM Skills
A study from the U.S. Department of Education reveals that 21 percent of earned bachelor’s degrees were in STEM fields during the 2019-2020 school year. STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, is a growing career field for the future class of career professionals. Even if your child isn’t considering a STEM-focused field, technological knowledge is an increasingly essential skill for any job. E-sports can spark an interest in computer science and provide general technology proficiency with its quick style of keyboard usage and navigation. The fun game style makes for a wonderful place to start learning high-level STEM skills in a format that’s accessible and easier to understand.
2. Build Problem Solving and Team Skills
As important as technical skills are for future success, soft skills are still key for a career and beyond. Dr. Robert Rippee, the executive director of Black Fire Innovation Hub and the director of the Hospitality & E-sports Innovation Lab at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, backs up e-sports’ benefits on Stride K12’s What I Want to Know podcast: “Soft skills like collaboration, teamwork, you know, strategic thinking, scenario building, all of those things which are required in these games because these games require skill.”
Like any sport, your child will experience wins and losses, teaching resilience and a practice mindset. Having the ability to evaluate mistakes and learn from them is an important ability for real-world scenarios. Additionally, e-sports adds a team element to video game play. Just as a player coordinates, communicates, and competes with other players on the court or field, e-sports introduces leagues and opponents to the virtual sporting space with other kids their age right behind the screen.
3. Connect with Fellow Players and Build Community
More teens are connected online than ever before. With healthy screen time in mind, incorporating real human interaction with your kid’s online leisure time allows for valuable connecting opportunities. The Pew Research Center reports more than half of teens play video games to spend time with friends. Video games are steadily becoming a key aspect of teen relationships, and the structured nature of e-sports teams and player matchups elevates socialization further. Throw in some friendly competition, and you can earn both forever friends and teammates.
4. Increase Their Motivation to Learn and Providing Inclusivity
Many studies prove a positive relationship between taking part in extracurricular activities and better engagement and grades in school. With video games being a popular hobby for teens, a rise in e-sports leagues in schools across the U.S. allows for greater benefits tied to an academic setting. Beyond representing more student interests in schools, e-sports provides inclusive fun for kids of all ages and skill levels. Dr. Rippee says e-sports’ inclusivity is important to its role in schools: “You don’t have to have physical ability to play a video game. So, from that perspective, it’s a broad net for inclusion.” Students can play as any colorful fantasy character they desire, creating a fun and safe space for a child’s skillsets to shine front and center.
5. Set Up Your Child for Careers, College, and Opportunity
E-sports is no joke! With its large fanbase and online popularity, e-sports even found a home in college sports rosters. The National Association of Collegiate E-sports supplies 16 million dollars annually to incoming e-sports college athletes. Video game designers and software developers are among the fast-growing and successful career paths that e-sports participation provides experience and excitement towards. This new and exciting sport not only supplies fun for your child right now but opens an entire world of STEM career possibilities for the not-so-distant future.