The Benefits of eSports
Blog written by Kylie Marler
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Growing up, we didn’t really play video games. We were always playing outside (sometimes our parents didn’t even know where we were until we came home for dinner). I remember some kids had Game Boys, and pretty much everyone had a Nintendo DS. The Nintendo Wii came out in 2006, and I remember getting one for Christmas (probably in 2007). The Wii was the “hot gaming console” everyone wanted to play, but even then we still spent most of our time outdoors because our parents were told to “limit screen time”. But in recent years, gaming has become so popular that researchers are now outlining the benefits of eSports.
Statista, a company specializing in market and consumer data, published this graph showing the eSports audience size worldwide from 2019, 2020, 2021, and the audience size projected in 2024. According to the graph, eSports viewership around the globe was about 397.8 million in 2019. By 2021, that number had jumped to a staggering 474 million.
If those numbers weren’t enough, this article from insiderintelligence.com outlines several revenue figures for the eSports industry. The article says, “investments are up to $4.5 billion in 2018 from just $490 million the year before”. The article goes on to list the top five most valuable esports teams according to Forbes:
- TSM – Value: $410 million, estimated revenue: $45 million
- Cloud9 – Value: $350 million, estimated revenue: $30 million
- Team Liquid – Value: $310 million, estimated revenue: $28 million
- FaZe Clan – Value: $305 million, estimated revenue: $40 million
- 100 Thieves – Value: $305 million, estimated revenue: $16 million
This webpage managed by the Institute of Games addresses how video gaming helps the cognitive development of skills. The Institute of Games is a social enterprise that studies technology and its impact on people (Investopedia defines social enterprise as, “a business with specific social objectives that serve its primary purpose. Social enterprises seek to maximize profits while maximizing benefits to society and the environment, and the profits are principally used to fund social programs”). In regards to problem solving skills/decision making skills, the webpage pulls information from a study conducted by Isabel Granic, et. al., and the webpage writes, “video games train problem solving and strategy development skills by getting the player to solve increasingly complicated problems,” and goes on to say that many games have time pressures that develop speed and decision making skills.
The webpage also talks about strategy development, saying, “video game playing predominantly exercises the brain. In most cases it involves working out some sort of strategy to stay alive or defeat a boss; build a structure or blow one up.” Moreover, “video game principles continue to be implemented in training situations, rehabilitation and other cognitive development exercises.”
The page continues, addressing attention allocation skills, “gamers have faster, more accurate attention allocation skills giving them the ability to prioritize decisions better and determine where their attention needs to be at a given time and for how long.”
The page also discusses spatial skills. According to kids.frontiersin.org, “spatial thinking allows you to understand the location and dimension of objects, and how different objects are related. It also allows you to visualize and manipulate objects and shapes in your head.” Going back to the webpage, it says this about spatial skills: “a person with good spatial reasoning skills might be particularly quick to finish a tangram puzzle,” as well as, “someone with good spatial abilities might also be good at thinking about how an object will look when rotated.”
Lastly, the webpage shows how video games are used in classrooms and even rehabilitation of patients with brain damage. For the classroom, the page writes, “video games combine instruction and demonstration, making it an effective learning technique… Many video games are specifically developed to link learning with fun.” A few examples are listed, including reading eggs, mathletics, and spelling games.
And for rehabilitation of brain-damaged patients, “video gaming can stimulate neurogenesis (growth of new neurons) and connectivity in the brain regions responsible for spatial orientation, memory formation and strategic planning.”
The Indiana Soccer Association, a non-profit organization that provides public educational soccer development and competition to youth and adults, has an entire division of their organization dedicated to eSports. The eSports section of their website consists of different pages outlining what eSports is/how it works, their registration process and information (including rules about age and parental consent), the benefits of eSports, the equipment required, eSports FAQs, their eSports partners, prizes and awards they offer to incentivize participation in eSports, as well as their eSports certifications/compliances, what games participants play, and benefits of joining their Gamer Club.
In their page about the benefits of eSports, the Indiana Soccer Association lists several ways eSports is beneficial, including improved hand-eye coordination, improved attention and visual acuity, improved basic visual processing and executive function, and problem solving and strategy skill development.
Under inclusion, the article says that traditional sports are not always possible (for various reasons such as being too introverted and not physically able to participate or compete), so eSports is an alternative avenue for individuals to explore passions and grow skills and confidence. The article also says that when schools offer an organized eSports program, gamers often feel like they are accepted members of their school community. Continuing on, “video games also play an important role in the creation and maintenance of teen friendships, which means eSports can help students develop a network of peer support.”
For teamwork, the article writes that since most eSports are played as a team, gamers must work together to accomplish a shared goal. It also says, “[players] learn that strong communication skills often lead to winning in the game.” The article talks about sportsmanship next, saying, “Just like traditional sports, eSports teaches kids important life lessons like good sportsmanship… eSports has developed a strict code of conduct that demands good manners and respect from all players,” and gamers are, “still expected to win and lose with grace.”
The NCSA (the National Association of Collegiate eSports) has caused changes for college programs. InvenGlobal published an article that explains how eSports helps students get opportunities for college scholarships. The article says, “thanks to NCSA, many colleges nowadays implement esports in education and even offer gaming scholarships to students… NCSA has over 150 member schools from all around the country,” which means NCSA works closely with collegiate eSports coaches and they provide any information students need in order to be successful in eSports.
The article continues, listing all the possible games that students could be awarded scholarships for:
- First-person shooter: Overwatch, Counter-Strike, Fortnite, PUBG, Paladins.
- Multiplayer Online Battle arena: Defense of the Ancients or DOTA 2, League of Legends, Smite, Heroes of the Storm.
- Collectible Card game: Hearthstone
- Sports games: FIFA, Rocket League, Madden.
- Real-time strategy: StarCraft II
- Fighting games: Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter.
Of course, just like with any scholarship, there are some academic requirements for collegiate eSports. The article says it’s common that, “gamers need to maintain a GPA of 2.5 or higher.” Also, “eSports scholarships are combined with academic scholarships,” so students have to continue to study and do well in their classes to keep their scholarships.
According to the article, eSports scholarships, “range from $500 to $8000 annually. Some schools even offer full-tuition and full-ride scholarships.” Following that, the article outlines steps to take to increase the chances of earning an eSports scholarship:
- Be professional.
- Create Hours of VODs (video on demand).
- Compete in live tournaments.
- Train like you have something to prove.
- Do good research on esports programs.
- Be flexible on your list of schools.
- Guide your competition.
- Understand what the scholarship actually provides.
- Be communicative. If you are not, then take a course or class to build that skill.
Shawn Smith writes in this article about the correlation between eSports gamers and desired college majors. He writes that 50.4% of eSports athletes, “answered that they are primarily interested to pursue college majors in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) category.” After STEM, the next highest area of study was eSports & Gaming, in which only 13.2% of gamers are interested. Then followed Business & Finance (9.5%), Arts (8.6%), Undecided (5.7%), Communications (4.5%), Political Science & Government (4.1%), Other (2.2%), and English & Literature (1.9%). The graph is pictured on the right.
The Indiana Soccer Association’s article also addresses how eSports helps with problem solving skills, saying, “children that play videos games have a far much better chance of navigating through complex psychological issues compared to those that do not actively participate in video games.”
The article finishes by talking about how the future job market is also a benefit of eSports, “playing video games can make students keener and more employable across a wider spectrum of careers including medical field, engineering, remote flying, computer sciences, and etc.”
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