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Education and Esports


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Joint presentation by Elizabeth Newbury of the Wilson Center's Serious Games Initiative and James Collins of the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Educational Technology on eSports and its use within classrooms.
Serious Play Conference, 2017

Published in: Education
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Education and Esports

  1. 1. ESPORTS & EDUCATION Why eSports is Impacting Classrooms Elizabeth Newbury Serious Games Initiative, Wilson Center & PhD Candidate, Cornell University @enewb @WilsonSTIP Photo credit: British eSports Association
  2. 2. Agenda Background About eSports K12 Context
  3. 3. • The Serious Games Initiative is part of the Science andTechnology Innovation Program at theWoodrowWilson International Center for Scholars, one of the top 10 think tanks in the world • We produce games to communicate leading policy research to the public • We aim to make research accessible, engaging & fun to increase dialogue around critical policy issues – Current Games:The Fiscal Ship ( created with 1st Playable and the Brookings Institute to help audiences learn about the federal budget Background About eSports K12 Context
  4. 4. About me • PhD Candidate at Cornell University • Dissertation in aTweet: “Why do people watch other people play video games?” • Mixed method exploration of eSports fans – Content analysis of eSports broadcast – Field observation of eSports in semi-public spaces – Interviews with eSports fans • Key literatures: sociology of sport, audience studies, fan studies, game studies, gender studies Background About eSports K12 Context
  6. 6. What is eSports? • Definition of “serious play” • eSports is competitive video game play, where video games are played like a sport • Consists of increasingly professionalized leagues, teams, players • Estimated $696M market* • Audience of 385 million worldwide* Sport Infrastructure & Culture eSports Video Games & Gaming culture *NewZoo (Feb 2017), Global eSports Market Report 2017 Background About eSports K12 Context
  7. 7. Is eSports a sport? • eSports exhibits many of the characteristics of sport (c.f. Jenny, Manning, Keiper & Olrich, 2017) – Organized play (leagues) – Professionalization of play – Dedicated following (fans) • My research:Yes….and no • eSports fans watch, socialize, consume, learn from watching but also play, which has long been divided in “sport fandom” (supportingTaylor, 2012) Background About eSports K12 Context
  8. 8. Does it matter if eSports is a sport? Depends? • Socially: being a sport provides legitimization for eSports fans to non-eSports fans • Economically: eSports is doing well as it stands – unless you are a player • Legally: Visas (e.g. Forbes, 2013, 2017); Ethical treatment of players, player health; Ramifications for cheating, drug use; Gambling – now legal in LasVegas; Title IX Background About eSports K12 Context Photo credit: High School StarLeague
  9. 9. Issues in eSports: Gender parity • Currently masculine dominated space – Gamer masculinity + Sports masculinity = No space for women (e.g. Connell’s Masculinities) • Particularly true when it comes to professional and casual play; less with spectating Background About eSports K12 Context *See Casselman, 2015 on ESPN
  10. 10. Ageism in eSports • Ageism is alive and well in eSports • “Prime” age to be an eSports player is pre-college; Professional players frequently “retire” somewhere in the early 20’s  Why? Journalists claim it is due to reaction time, dexterity, etc.  Fans: “I had to become an adult”  What’s critical here is this is in terms of competitive playing -- the audience for eSports (those who watch & play casually) is much more flexible Background About eSports K12 Context Photo credit: Mousesports
  12. 12. What does an eSports fan do? Background About eSports K12 Context
  13. 13. Applications for K12 Play • Integration of competitive video gaming in terms of play would provide many of the same benefits as organized sport: teaching fair play, giving kids a sense of agency and self- esteem • Added benefit: pathways to STEM Watching • Understanding that watching contributes to play eSports is critical • Form of experiential learning: students are harnessing what they watch and applying it to their own experience; also evaluating what they watch Background About eSports K12 Context Photo credit:UCI (which now offers scholarships!)
  14. 14. Skills from eSports • Social engagement: eSports is a space where young people can make friends, that they can engage in a diversity of play, watching, and social identity construction practices both online and offline • Need for: awareness of cyberbullying; internet safety; time management • Research & Strategic thinking: fans often become eSports fans as a result of researching how to play their favorite game; they continue this research about the game throughout their experience, tying both to watching (critique of plays) and playing (developing strategy) • Ties to: evaluating data and sources; improved statistical & logical reasoning; game theory; engaged learning Background About eSports K12 Context Photo credit: Riot Games
  15. 15. Pro-Social Skills in eSports Background About eSports K12 Context Photo credit: Don’t feed theTrolls podcast (disclaimer: not endorsing)
  16. 16. Future Directions: Care in Consumptive Practices In-Game Platforms like STEAM and in-game purchasing make supporting the industry easy, giving fans a sense of agency At the same time, purchases need to have some in-game value to be effective – seeThe International Out-Game Fans buy mostly game-related merchandise (not like a sports fan) but design spaces for watching, playing, and socializing around eSports May not be buying jerseys, but will buy mice if has value for gaming FANS ARE NOT SPORTS CONSUMERS; THE TENSIONS BETWEEN BEING A SPECTATOR AND PLAYER ARE SEEN IN THEIR CONSUMPTION Background About eSports K12 Context
  17. 17. Future Directions: Spaces for eSports eSports Space Spectating Knowledge Acquisition Socializing Playing • K12 audience need physical spaces to gather • History of arcades, LANs* • Increasingly, the spectatorship experience is being geared towards 21+ • K12: Need a physical space to gather, with supportive instructors • Ways to encourage diversity? *Which are male-dominated spacesBackground About eSports K12 Context
  18. 18. Future Directions: Design Implications • It starts with the game: successful eSports games have been changed to easily encourage spectator mode • Need to incorporate more diversity in gaming characters to encourage wider audience • Low skill floor, high skill ceiling – fans want to see games that are easy to get into, but can be played at increasingly complex levels Background About eSports K12 Context Photo Credit: NYTimes
  20. 20. @OfficeOfEdTech Education & Competitive Gaming Why Esports is Impacting Classrooms James Collins, Liaison Office of Educational Technology • US Department of Education
  21. 21. Office of Educational Technology ● provide leadership at the Federal level, through the Department of Education, by developing a national vision and strategy ● provide leadership to the Nation in the use of technology to promote achievement and to increase opportunities for all students ● to infuse technology and technology planning into all educational programs carried out within school systems at the State and local level
  22. 22. Reimagining the Role of Technology in Education
  23. 23. ● Learning ● Teaching ● Leadership ● Assessment ● Infrastructure
  24. 24. “We observed that participants who scored higher on a number processing task had greater improvements in MOBA skill and that this link depended on the social context of the gameplay. Specifically, numerical skill was linked to player rankings generated from matches where they were paired with random individuals...”
  25. 25. Further Research Needed ● Skill/Play connections ● Data Collection ● Data Interpretation ● Case Studies
  26. 26. Connect with us online: @OfficeOfEdTech Web: Blog: tech@ed.govEmail: