Game on

Sask Bulletin
April 6, 2021
By Dean Vendramin, Teacher Archbishop M.C. O’Neill Catholic High School

Tech Talk

In this instalment of Tech Talk, we’ll take a quick look into the world of e-sports. E-sports (electronic sports) is one of the fastest growing competitions in the world. The list of e-sports includes traditional sports video games such as Madden NFL (football), FIFA (soccer) and Y2K (basketball), to fighting games like Super Smash Bros., Fortnite and Call of Duty to strategy games such as Rocket League and League of Legends.

In fact, there are numbers that suggest that e-sports will overtake traditional sports viewership and already involves serious money. There is even a strong chance that one day e-sports will be part of the Olympics. Many colleges in the United States are offering scholarships to e-sports athletes as this competition continues to grow.

So what does that mean for teachers in Saskatchewan? It could mean a great opportunity to connect and offer students another way to get involved (an opportunity that many students might not have the chance to otherwise).

There are a few of ways to approach e-sports at schools. One could take a casual approach and have a club whose objective is to bring students together to just play games. Some schools take a very competitive approach with try outs, practices, and enter competitive leagues against other schools. The approach I took was a hybrid with casual play, but also school-wide tournaments, some exhibition matches against another school, and dabbled in a couple of the North American High School Esports Leagues (HSEL and PlayVS).

Another option that would be available is Explore Esports With New Minecraft: Education Edition Lessons and Teaching Guide. I am looking forward to growing this opportunity for students at my school. (Currently we play mostly Super Smash Bros. and Rocket League®, but hope to expand titles.) With the current pandemic, e-sports is still a viable option to get students involved in extracurricular (something that is sorely missing at this time).

There are many benefits to e-sports, including digital citizenship, sportsmanship, confidence, relationship building, commitment and more. A couple of things to consider about setting up an e-sports club would be costs, grants, buy-in from administration and parents, and providing a safe space in which to compete and communicate. There are many resources to help one with this journey (you may be interested in The Esports Education Playbook: Empowering Every Learning Through Inclusive Gaming). The students themselves are the best resources and have good ideas. The ownership and pride alone that the students show is worth the effort.

I recently participated in a podcast with a couple of educators in Manitoba that are doing some great things with e-sports and offer up some great advice. If you are interested in learning more, have a listen to E-Sports in Education with Melissa Burns and Brian Cameron.

I hope that e-sports continues to grow and offer some great experiences for many students. If you have any questions or would like to share your e-sports experience, reach out to me on Twitter @vendi55 or by email at d.vendramin@rcsd.ca.

Also check out #saskedchat Thursdays at 8 p.m. to grow your professional learning network and engage in educational-related topics. Until next time, stay well, stay safe and take care.