California Educator

June/July 2020

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Page 45 of 63

" Students who normally wouldn't fit in now have a group and an environment to call their own. It's instilled pride and confidence in a segment of the student population that was shy and introverted." — Brent Willis, Association of Placentia-Linda Educators READY PLAYER ONE: Esports in Schools Teamwork, self-confidence and competition for high school video gamers By Julian Peeples T H E T E A M T R A I N E D for this moment all year. They developed strategy with their coach, reviewed video of their opponents to determine strengths and weaknesses, and scrimmaged against other teams. As the Yorba Linda High School team prepares for a match with a squad from Vancouver, British Columbia, the players put on headsets, settle into chairs and focus their eyes on computer screens for the impending arena battle — in this week's esports league match. Esports, short for electronic sports (and with a variety of spellings), is a form of sport competition using video games. Long orga- nized by gamers and enthusiasts, esports became an international phenomenon in the late 2000s, growing and evolving into a billion-dollar industry with an estimated audience of nearly 500 million worldwide. Th e p opul arity spurred th e creation of esports clubs in colleges and high schools as early as 2008, with more than 130 colleges and more than 300 high schools now in on the competitive gaming action. With 100 million people watching last year's League of Legends World Champion- ship, the visibility of competitive gaming is at an all-time high. Couple that with recent studies that show educational benefits of playing video games and the increased job 44 Teaching & Learning

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