Powering STEM Skills Through Esports
Esports provides an environment where students learn by doing.
As many schools are quickly finding out, esports is a non-contact sport that doubles as an opportunity to generate pathways to modern careers. Many of these future jobs are centered around the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
PlayVS regularly partners with our Game Changers to discuss how collegiate programs can incorporate ways to provide training for careers in esports, but the biggest opportunity for student athletes may actually lie in the broader workforce.
That being said, the infrastructure required to keep esports moving requires a bevy of STEM skills. Esports take that left-brained approach and make it rewarding. So, what are some of the skills that students enrolled in esports programs can expect to stumble into?
A 2020 report suggests STEM accounts for 67% of all U.S. jobs (including a third of high-paying jobs). As such, schools are beginning to implement more of the core curriculum previously reserved for coding boot camps and other private institutions.
Many gamers and esports athletes want to learn how games are made, and it starts with computer programming. If your school has an esports team, it will no doubt be filled with the typical student who has an endless curiosity about what’s under the hood.
Having instructors and courses designed to teach them means students interested in coding can get up to speed on the latest coding languages, something that will help them discover fields outside of esports such as app development.
Preparatory systems that ready esports players for real-world careers will inevitably include options to learn data analysis, a top-5 emerging job that more and more high schoolers are interested in adding to their slate of electives. However, these sort of courses can seem dry in a classroom. That's why esports is such a golden opportunity to provide an exciting, hands-on environment for students to learn by doing.
While data analysis coursework will often include overviews of coding and stats, it places an emphasis on visualizing patterns, creating narratives and writing reports based on qualitative findings using tools such as SPSS.
Regardless of whether students are eyeing a career in sports (or a more research-heavy field such as biotech), learning the fundamentals of data analysis will help them mature as esports athletes and understand how to review gameplay footage to draw insights on strategy.
Statistics & Math
Stats have been married to sports in a big way ever since Major League Baseball began compiling them with computers in 1969, allowing the average fan to better understand their favorite players.
Esports takes that national pastime to another level. In addition to front offices working with teams, entrepreneurs, game developers and strategists all make use of basic statistics in esports.
In-game stats are crucial to evaluating team and player performance, but outside of that stats play crucial roles in overall business. The need for program directors to have a handle on statistics are why it’s baked into the curriculum for esports management Bachelor’s degrees. Strategists in professional esports utilize their in-depth understanding of game mechanics in order to determine mathematically which mechanics will result in the best outcomes for the team.
Mathematics are similarly critical to the esports ecosystem. According to university researchers, students interested in game design would do well to learn polynomial equations and how to build out functions and math models.
As the broader workplace becomes more high tech, the marriage between esports and STEM will remain stronger than ever.
To learn more about starting an esports program at your school, check out our guide for getting set up to learn how easy it is for students to start learning new skills while having fun.
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