20 Jul





 min read

What to Consider Before Starting an Esports Program at Your School

Whether you are a middle school teacher who keeps overhearing students talk about Fortnite or a superintendent familiarizing yourself with the word “esports” for the first time, we have the esports resources for schools that’ll help you understand this growing (and youth-driven) industry.

There are three essential questions to ask when considering esports in schools:

  • Who can play?
  • How can students play?
  • Why should students play?

By addressing these three questions, you’ll have a better idea of what education means in esports (and how to take your next steps in introducing it to your school).

Who Can Play Esports?: Understanding ESRB Game Ratings

Since 1994, the ,Entertainment Software Review Board (ESRB) has helped consumers identify which video games are appropriate for particular age groups.

If you are thinking of having students play games in school, it is important to realize just because a game is popular with a certain age group – that doesn’t mean they should be playing it.

Let’s think of it this way. Many movies can be considered educational, but not every educational movie is appropriate for younger audiences. ,Many games can be considered esports, but not every age should play them.

The ESRB can help you determine which games to bring into your school gaming club, for example. Utilize their website’s search feature to review their rating on titles your students may be interested in.

To additionally help aid your search for an esports game, check out our article on the ,top esports students are playing today.

How Can Students Play Esports?: Student Agency

The easiest way for students to start playing esports is… *spoiler alert*... by playing. Part of esports success with younger audiences is because students often want to play games.

Think back to the 1970s and 1980s. Arcades weren’t built as “competitive arenas.” They were just for playing. When young people realized they could hang out and have fun playing, competition grew naturally. After all, everyone wants to beat their friend at something.

If you’re an educator, observe your student’s interest in games. An esports club and team will not work unless you have students there to participate and be passionate about the club/team’s longevity.

If you see students bringing gaming devices to class or talking about streams they watch on ,Twitch then that is your opportunity to engage with them about esports. Give them agency. Ask how they envision esports on their campus.

From there (and depending on interest levels) students can build an academic/extra-curricular club to play together. Or, they can work with the school administration to create an esports team. Organizations like Vanta help you set up your students with a network of players and offer you the coaching support to take a team to the next level.

Why Should Students Play Esports?: Abundant Career Paths

Once you start keeping up with the esports industry you realize how many career paths it opens up. Just this year, projections tell us how esports will continue to branch into fields such as ,cybersecurity and international business.

The 2010s focused heavily on STEM in education. In the 2020s and beyond, we’re more likely to see schools turn towards mastery of concepts. Groups such as the ,Mastery Transcript Consortium are tangible early examples of how students’ interdisciplinary passions, applicable abilities, and creative problem solving may be more important than just letter grades.

Students should play esports because it makes them learn complex skills while experiencing joy. Joy is a powerful emotion that connects students to lessons and each other.

Whether it is playing with friends, classmates, or on a team, it is our responsibility as adults to pay attention to the generations-old interest young people have in games. We know it goes beyond recreation. Video game titles may change.

But, we have a strong feeling that kids won’t lose interest in playing them. Playing is what children do best. It is how we’ve learned across time.

If you want to learn more about starting an esports program at your school, you can download our, schools’ guide for free, or visit our ,webpage for schools looking to get involved in esports.

Spread the word.

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