It’s critical to consider the reason behind your decision to add esports to the curriculum. This helps you determine the scope and direction, informing your choices regarding the hardware, software, and other essentials necessary to build a robust esports program.
Tools of the Trade
Educators unfamiliar with the esports world may be overwhelmed with where to start — equipment, furniture, network. While gaming requires a certain amount of infrastructure, it can be as simple as a PC and a gaming headset. Depending on the level and focus you want for your esports program, you can add on from there, with monitors and keyboards optimized for gaming and ergonomic chairs for players sitting for extended periods.
Let’s start with the computer, which is the most critical element. Laptops are portable and ideal for transporting to tournaments or for students to take home to practice their skills. Desktops work well for gamers who intend to play in the same physical space and are often easier to upgrade and cheaper than laptops offering similar performance. Either way, you’ll want to consider the components that make for a great gaming PC, including:
- Graphics card with 8GB video RAM (VRAM)
- High-speed CPU
- Efficient cooling system
- High-quality display
While a basic gaming system can run upwards of a thousand dollars, schools can also utilize computers for other academic purposes. For example, science classes can run virtual reality lab simulations on the PCs used by the esports club, making the investment more cost-effective. Students can also learn how to manage the hardware and perform their own upgrades, providing additional cost savings.
Silver Linings of Esports and Hybrid Learning
While many schools had to limit participation in extracurricular activities due to the pandemic, esports has benefited from this shift. Competitions occur online, so there’s no disruption if students participate from home.
The general stigma around esports as a ‘waste of time’ or ‘distraction from schoolwork and traditional socializing’ is changing as educators realize how competitive gaming can help students level up their learning. It’s easier to justify the costs associated with starting an esports program because it captivates students and will motivate them to succeed academically.
Esports: Beyond Gaming
Throughout the many shifts education has gone through over the past two years, esports is here to stay. It works well in any learning environment and has potential academic and social benefits for students that can transcend K-12 education.