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Whether you’re in high school or college, you know how important it is to stay on top of your grades. You probably dedicate a lot of time going to class, completing assignments, working on projects, and studying for exams. While being a good student is admirable, you also deserve time to spend on your interests outside of school.
One type of extracurricular activity that you might want to learn more about, especially if you spend your free time playing video games, is esports. But what is esports?
Take a deeper look into the world of esports, discover some of the top games right now, and learn how you can get involved in esports.
What is Esports? A Basic Overview
Esports, short for electronic sports, is a form of organized, competitive video gaming. These competitions are held between individuals or teams playing a multiplayer game. It’s becoming so popular that it’s considered a spectator sport, and you can even pursue a professional career in esports.
Organized video game competitions are nothing new, but it was largely considered amateur until the late 2000s. Now, esports allows gamers to compete in tournaments, often with cash prizes for winners. Players can also earn sponsorships and invitations to join professional esports leagues or teams.
One of the reasons why esports is growing in popularity is because other gamers can stream esports competitions on platforms such as Twitch, Facebook Gaming or YouTube. Although esports and gaming are closely related, they cannot be used interchangeably. Esports requires more commitment and since tournaments always have winning and losing teams, much more is at stake.
Common Video Games
Here is a basic list of some of the most popular esports games:
- League of Legends
- Call of Duty
- Apex Legends
- Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
- Rocket League
- Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Because esports is a big business, thousands of people participate and play more than the games included in the list above. Statista predicts that the esports industry will reach a value of $1.87 billion by 2025, which is just around the corner.
How Students Benefit From Participating in Esports
If you’re in high school or college, you’ve likely played at least one video game before. If you were stuck in quarantine during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, you might’ve purchased a video game console to keep yourself occupied and entertained. While your teachers and parents might encourage you to spend your time doing other activities, playing video games actually benefits students.
They might suggest that you pursue a leadership position in student government to bolster your college application or join a sports team to make new friends. What if you’re not interested in these things? Thankfully, you have other options and participating in competitive gaming is no exception.
The Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB), the organization that provides ratings for video games, outlines the main benefits, including:
- It can help with mood management and mental well-being
- It can help you learn how to be a good digital citizen
- Can improve your ability to work on a team
- Can foster positive social connections with other players
- Can improve your decision-making and problem-solving skills
- It can teach you how to strategize
- It can allow you to enter a state of flow
Video games are fun and a great way to wind down after school, too.
Potential Downsides of Gaming
It’s important to mention that there can be “too much” of a good thing. In other words, it is possible to develop a video game addiction. There’s some debate over whether video game addiction is comparable to other addictions, like gambling.
Video game addiction is not officially recognized in the DSM-5-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). However, the American Addiction Centers suggests that some players who become gaming-obsessed can show characteristics of addictive behavior. Additionally, some esports players experience physical ailments due to their gaming time.
For example, some professional esports players had to retire early due to wrist, hand and finger injuries, such as ganglion cysts, nagging aches and pains, muscle weakness and nerve compression. Players also sit in a chair for long periods, contributing to lower back and neck pain.
Create a Program or Club at Your School
While you should avoid setting up a Duos match on Fornite during your Biology class, your school might offer esports or a gaming club at the very least. Suppose your high school or college/university has yet to provide a gaming club or team. In that case, you can speak to a teacher, guidance counselor, advisor or administrator to see if you can start a program or club.
However, there’s no guarantee that starting an esports program is feasible, depending on your school’s funding, access to technology and other factors.
Enhance Your Educational Experience With Esports
High school and college students have a wide range of personal interests, many of which they can pursue in the form of extracurricular activities. For example, you might play sports, become a student council member, join the drama club, volunteer in your community, or attend faith-based events with your family. Opportunities for extracurricular activities are seemingly endless.
Esports falls under extracurricular activities, so why not start today? If you’re interested in esports, consider joining a local team or speak with school administrators to create an official esports program.