Esports in Schools as an Academic Motivator

What is Esports?

by Blake Lienhart and Jay Chen















(retrieved from )


Esports is defined as “a multiplayer video game played competitively for spectators, typically by professional gamers”. While the idea of professional competitive video gaming seems like a very recent development, competitive gaming dates back to the 1960’s where the first ever esports tournament was held at Stanford University. 24 entrants were gathered to compete in a game known as “Spacewar!” with the grand prize being a yearlong subscription to Rolling Stones magazine. Since then, the idea of professional competitive gaming has grown exponentially, even reaching the level of many other traditional sports. Esports is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States right now and is expected to reach a “5 billion dollar value and an audience of nearly 600 million people by 2020” (Aviles 2018).


Why is Esports Important in Schools?

With the rise of technology, more and more children are getting into playing video games every year. Since video games are playing such a massive role in the lives of students, it would be wise to take advantage of the rising interest and seek out a way to incorporate it into the classroom. By including ways for to students to engage with their own personal interests in schools, we can not only increase student interest in the classroom, but also show that they and their hobbies are valued by educators. In addition, by including esports opportunities for students, more and more of them can feel a part of their school’s community. Not every student has the opportunity to play for a varsity sports team and represent their school, but with esports, an entirely new group can benefit.


Just like group work or football, soccer, basketball, etc., it intends to teach young students how to work with other people in order to complete a task/accomplish a goal/obtain a victory. “‘There’s historically been a stigma associated with gaming,’ says Steve Jaworski, head of strategic partnerships for HSEL (High School Esports League). ‘Teenage gamers have been stereotyped as ‘basement dwellers,’ especially when others in their school communities frown on gaming as a waste of time. Now, instead of feeling alone, they’re welcomed into the ­community. They’re contributing to the school ecosystem, and they’re passionate about being rewarded. These previously disenfranchised young people are being accepted — and, in many cases, celebrated’” (Hennick 2019). In addition, these opportunities for more students to be involved can also keep students out of trouble and focused on their passion for gaming, much like traditional sports do, as well. Student involvement in school-based extracurriculars is related to increased academic achievement and the development of essential life skills, such as persistence, prioritization, and problem-solving (Fink 2019).


Esports in schools also opens up many entirely new career paths for students. Not only for those actually playing and competing, but for countless others, as well. Among some of these potential careers are casters, coaches, journalists, personal relations roles, analysts, tournament organizers and even more involving the technological aspect of streaming games. As Chris Aviles has said in reference to his own experiences building up esports in schools, “of the 75 students that want to come out for our team, almost a quarter of them don’t want to actually play the game. A quarter of my students want to develop the website, run the social media accounts, oversee the Twitch stream, run the in-game camera, manage team logistics, act as team journalists and videographers, and provide the color commentary and play-by-play of the games as casters. All of these tangentially related needs of an esports team will build soft skills and talents that our kids can apply to future college applications and lucrative jobs” (Aviles, 2019).















(retrieved from )


How Esports can Help Students

The terms “tilt” and “toxicity” are not widely known outside of the esports community, however they are afflictions in our students both academically and in traditional sports.

  • Tilt: the state of mind in which a person (player) adopts a less than optimal strategy due to frustration or roadblocks in their plans. This affects traditional sports players underperform in a tournament game and students that underperform in class due to traumatic events or lack of guidance.

  • Toxicity: the act of expressing negative behavior through harassment to either people in your team or the opponent’s team. This may be the result of negative upbringing, immaturity, or a mix between the two. This negatively impacts relationship building between teammates, ruins morale, and impedes personal growth in terms of nurturing someone’s potential to the fullest.

These traits are common in all students, regardless of whether or not they participate in esports or traditional sports. But with a good mentor and the right environment, traits like tilt and toxicity can be overcome and students will be able to develop a positive attitude and mindset towards adversity, whether it is during a competitive game or staying on top of schoolwork and studies.



How to Begin Developing Esports Infrastructure in Schools


  • Much like other sports in schools, there should be a GPA requirement

  • Large group of students and faculty with diverse interests involving esports (competitors, coaches, tech crew, etc.)

  • Actively setting up scrimmages with other nearby and far away teams or other schools

  • Established practice times that are flexible with academic schedules

  • Students generally already have access to the games they would be interested in playing competitively and their own computers/gaming consoles

  • Communications between students and teachers is essential to fostering a serious and healthy community

  • Certain schools and/or students may have trouble acquiring proper equipment (TVs, computers, gaming consoles, streaming equipment, strong WiFi/Ethernet connection)

  • A large amount of space for both storage, practice, and scrimmages is required in schools


Further Reading

 More information on how quickly esports is growing and why it is wise to include in education.

 Detailed information on what esports actually looks like in schools from schools that have already adopted it.

 Contains an interview with a teacher who was at first skeptical on esports before getting involved with the program at his school.

 Discusses how esports are offering more opportunities to more students within schools to get involved and feel like they matter in their community.

 Goes into further detail on esports outside of educational spaces and further highlights all of the potential career choices that are provided when esports is included into schools.

 More information on just how quickly and massively esports is growing, both financially and in popularity.


Works Cited


Aviles, C. (2019, March 29). Why We Need To Embrace Esports In Education • Teched Up Teacher. Retrieved from

Fink, J. (2019, February 06). Video Games Are the New Competitive Sport in Schools. Retrieved from

Hennick, C. (2019, January 11). Esports Programs Start to Pop Up in K–12 Schools. Retrieved from