Competitive video gaming has come a long way since the days of the corner arcade Pacman tournament. Today, esports is a billion dollar industry and growing global phenomenon. Esports viewership has grown by an estimated 50 million annually in each of the last three years, with viewership nearing 500 million annually in 2020.
If you aren’t familiar with the term esports, it’s a form of competitive video gaming where individuals, teams or leagues of players compete against one another to win tournaments. Professional esports players train for and compete in competitions similarly to professional athletes, with top performers earning millions annually.
With the popularity of professional esports leagues on the rise, local club teams have been popping up all over the country. Being part of an esports team and competing in esports events can be great for children. Playing games competitively teaches similar skills as playing other sports. Children develop grit as they work toward improving their skills and compete against people who may be better than them. They learn to create and follow strategies, communicate with teammates, and develop strong hand-eye coordination. Children also learn about good sportsmanship and being mindful of their emotional state, which can help students to manage stress in their daily lives.
All of these skills have a positive impact on academics and school performance. Students who participate in organized esports clubs have an average of 10% higher attendance and GPAs averaging 1.7 points higher than their peers!
In addition to tournament prizes, accomplished gamers can even earn scholarships for competing in esports. Colleges have begun recruiting aggressively for talent for their developing programs. Big name schools including Ohio State University, University of California, and University of Texas offer as much as $25,000 annually for esports scholarship recipients for games such as Dota 2, CS:GO, Rocket League, Overwatch, League of Legends, and more!
Like any sport, talent is only half of the equation. Both physical ability and mental toughness must be developed. Esports players practice regularly to become masters of their sport and to maintain emotional constancy. A good coach is an integral part of a player’s development. Coaches spend time with players reviewing game footage, adjusting equipment, and giving players specific feedback to improve in their role. They will also work with teams to develop strategies and improve communication among the players.
If your child isn’t quite ready to join a club team or local league, there are some ways they can begin to improve on their own. One of the biggest ways players can improve is by seeking feedback from others who are familiar with the game and reviewing gameplay together. There’s also benefit from watching professional matches and paying attention to the strategies used in these games.
Many sports require specific equipment and esports is no different. While some esports tournaments are played using console games, computer gaming dominates the esports world. High end gaming computers can cost thousands of dollars, but starter machines are fine for beginners. Investing in a desktop computer over a laptop will generally get you more power for your money. These machines are also easier to upgrade as the various components become outdated. Any competitive gamer will also benefit from a gaming mouse with adjustable sensitivity and a responsive headset with microphone to communicate with teammates and coaches.
Although most esports leagues are geared towards kids 14 and older, Black Rocket runs the first esports league for kids 8 to 14. The league and company’s philosophy is safe-fun-learn. Since not all games are appropriate for this age bracket, Black Rocket created their own kid-safe games: Battle Royale, Sembly and Rocket Kart Racers.
Players can compete live for prizes including gift cards, t-shirts, and more! All games are free to play and web based, so players can practice any time on any computer with an internet connection. Players can even set up private lobbies to challenge their friends.
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Interested in learning more about esports and esports casting? Check out our Esports Apprentice: Streamers and Gamers classes or camp!