Module 5 - Esports, Streaming and Professional Gaming


Module 5 - Esports, Streaming and Professional Gaming

Last activity on April 9, 2024

Demystifying Esports For Parents and Schools

What are esports?

  • Essentially, esports are video games that designed to be played competitively, and with the possibility of spectatorship.
  • Gamers attracted to esports are commonly CRA gamers.
  • While all esports are video games, only some video games are considered esports.

Addressing the hesitation by parents and schools to accept esports into their community

Esports are largely misunderstood because problematic and passionate gaming can look very similar which leads to a sense of concern from parents who don’t yet understand them.

1) There is the fear that any encouragement of gaming will lead to a gaming addiction. We don’t worry about an “addiction to soccer”, so this is a new paradigm to wrap our heads around.

2) We tend to oversimplify things when we don’t understand them by putting them into boxes such as good or bad. That’s understandable because the core value behind it is to keep kids safe.

Why is it important to understand gaming and esports?

  • Parents and schools who understand a child’s passion for esports will find more opportunties to engage them to meet wellbeing, connectedness and academic learning outcomes.
  • Once you engage a student through esports, you now have a platform for real conversations about healthy gaming habits and the benefits of competition in this space.

Comparing traditional sports and esports

  • Traditional Sports:
    • have a 5000 year old history
    • have the physical fitness element
    • push the limits of human physical performance
    • have built in regulators to prevent overtraining: fatigue and injury
    • require concentration and resilience to reach peak performance.
    • require self discipline to train, because of physical discomfort and pure effort.
  • Esports:
    • have far more similarities than differences.
    • are an easy way to access the human drive to compete.
    • can teach many of the skills that we rely on traditional sports to teach kids.
    • do not have the same built in regulators of fatigue and injury, although they still exist as factors influencing performance.
    • require concentration and resilience to reach peak performance.
    • Require self-discipline to prevent over-training: the nature of game design and accessibility encourage more use than what is recommended.

Both traditional sports and esports offer great opportunities for growth when done in a structured, purposeful fashion

My child wants to be a professional gamer. What do I do?

  • Kids wanting to be professionals at the hobbies they love is not a new idea.
    • Entertainers:
      • Musicians
      • Athletes
      • Dancers
    • Competitors
      • team sports
      • individual sports

Comparing professional gaming to professional sport and entertainment

  • Pro gamers are like athletes – contracts, tournament winnings and team practices
  • Pro streamers are like buskers – entertaining for donations
  • You can game for much longer than you can run without exhaustion or injury. The secondary consequences are easier to ignore, but they are there.
  • Kids who see professional gamers can often confuse what is actually required to succeed with the idea of not having to work a “real job”
  • Professional gamers have also been role modelling excessive gaming as the only pathway to the professional level, but we don’t believe this is necessary, nor sustainable.

With the right kind of encouragement and structure, it could be a great idea to support your child’s dream. Left unmonitored, it could present problems.

Developing players at the grass roots level

We need an esports player development pathway. The safe and sustainable path to the Olympics or into a career in gaming needs to start with more structure than what we see now. Currently, kids are just discovering they have talent when they are playing their game. That would be ok if it didn’t encourage “The Grind Mentality”. This is the belief that playing more is better, which ever so conveniently matches with someone who wants to overindulge in video games, confusing many lines around competition and leisure. The way to course correct the current pathway is through education. Performance coaching in esports has a big role to play, as it has the opportunity to teach balance, and other important self-development concepts that are required for athletes of all kinds to change their relationship with their sport from casual to competitive.

Education in this space can give schools and parents the confidence they need to accept esports.

What can scholastic esports do for my child?

  • Experience leadership, communication, sportsmanship, resilience, confidence, school connectedness and friendship. – All the things that sports can offer us, but without the increase in physical fitness.
  • Competing in a structured way with purpose within your region/cohort starts to look more like the traditional sports pathway that encourages young people to grow through competition, but also gives them a reality check on where they stand and what their potential is. Whatever the athlete’s decision to proceed, it will be a better informed one.
  • Research has indicated that “…school esports programs have the potential to bring about positive psychological development and/or helathy behaviour change” with the right kinds of structure and culture.
    • Michael G. Trotter, Tristan J. Coulter, Paul A. Davis, Dylan R. Poulus and Remco Polman

How to make Esports sustainable: A safe pathway to compete

The Esports industry has been building their ship while sailing it, making it so that the pathway to professional has been very unhealthy. We need a culture shift that determines what the best practice is to build someone’s game and minimize the direct and indirect harms that come with overplaying.

Step 1

Healthy gaming education in high schools with a heavy focus on understanding motivation.

Step 2

Leverage esports engagement to deliver curriculum outcomes in a variety of subject areas.

Step 3

Setting up social gaming clubs in schools that support player development in an esports setting as well as a social setting. Gaming is a safe space for autistic and other socially anxious young people to socialize because it acts like a buffer as well as a common point to rally around and create meaningful, real life social experiences.

Step 4

Engage in High School Esports Leagues that mirror the traditional high school sports pathways in structured competition. One difference with esports is that students get more opportunities to play in front of a crowd if the event is broadcasted. Students report this as a very special experience, that traditional athletes don’t get to feel until much further into their careers, if ever.

Step 5

Performance coaching young players to deter players from “the grind mentality”. If we put as much focus on “off-screen” training as “on-screen” training, we have the opportunity to teach the high performance mindset and psychology that is required to reframe esports into a healthier and more balanced activity. We have seen this as extremely beneficial at the professional level where a player focused approach leads to better results and happier players.

How to start a gaming club at your school

(and how we can help)

  1. Find your teacher champion
  2. Find a lunchtmime space for once or twice a week.
  3. Involve your IT manager for support
  4. Survey your students and gather data on the best games to play, what equipment is available and what esports they are interested in playing.
  5. Show this video to parents and administration
  6. Enter competitions against other schools

Tips for parents

1) Whether your kids want to be professionals or not, you should always take the time to be a teammate instead of an opponent.

2) Support social gaming face to face whenever you can, including school gaming clubs and esports teams. These are planned sessions rather than mindless, habitual gaming.

3) Talk to your kids and make a plan – What do they ACTUALLY want from esports? Growth or overindulgence? Support growth and discourage mindless habitual gaming with structure.

4) Reach out to GameAware if you suspect that they are playing to escape.

What GameAware Esports offers:

1) Esports Performance online courses for students, with links to the Australian Curriculum

2) School incursions or excursions, depending on your location.

3) Referral options for families who are struggling with problematic gaming

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