Esports is a hot topic in higher education, from recruiting esports athletes, to helping to prepare the future workforce for a multitude of jobs in this more than $1 billion industry. Esports has pretty much exploded on college campuses in the last 10 years–and for good reason. According to Insider Intelligence, it is estimated there will be more than 29 million monthly esports viewers in the U.S. this year. With this amazing growth at the college level, it is bound to trickle down into K-12 education.
For higher education institutions, there have been many benefits of creating successful esports programs. It’s a great way to recruit students, increase engagement, and showcase potential career opportunities. It’s also a great way to connect students who may not have had any interest in other extracurricular activities on campus.
As more K-12 schools and districts start to consider esports, there is often the question of how best to bring it to their students–especially if they don’t have the budget or resources to create an arena like the ones seen on TV.
Thinking you have to, as they say, “go big or go home” is a common misconception about setting up an esports program, especially because it is a newer industry and there isn’t much background on how to get programs started at a school. While it might seem like there’s a lot to do or purchase to start an esports program, it really just comes down to three things: technology that is often already available, the “arena” or a space to house the team, and people.
Many might think technology would be a barrier when it comes to creating an esports club or league, but it comes down to four pieces of technology: computers, internet, headsets, and interactive or non-interactive classroom displays. A high-end computer isn’t necessary; it just needs to be reliable and do basic functions, and that’s the same with the internet. Reliability is the most important factor so students don’t get disconnected during gameplay. A good quality headset is probably the most important part of playing so players can tune out other noises in the room and teammates can collaborate as they play.