Volume 33, No. 1: Bright Horizons in 2023

Esports Is Community

PK Graff, Instructional Designer, STEM Content Specialist, Director of Gaming, Academies of Creative Education / Georgia Scholastic Esports Foundation, Brookhaven, GA

So, What Is Esports?
Esports is a form of competitive video gaming where players or teams participate in organized tournaments and leagues. It has gained immense popularity in recent years and is now considered a professional sport, with players, teams, and leagues operating at a global level. Despite the common belief that video games isolate players, esports actually fosters a sense of community and helps players develop soft skills such as teamwork, communication, and leadership, which are highly valued in the job market. Additionally, esports provides opportunities for players to network with professionals in the industry, potentially leading to career opportunities in gaming and technology.

Scholastic esports programs can provide high school gamers with an opportunity to develop skills that are valuable in their future pursuits. Through participating in esports, students can learn how to work collaboratively, communicate effectively, and think critically in high-pressure situations. These skills can be beneficial in a variety of career paths, including those in the gaming and technology industries, as well as in other fields where teamwork and problem-solving are essential. Scholastic esports also provides students with the opportunity to network with professionals in the industry and gain a better understanding of the various career paths available. Furthermore, it can be a positive extracurricular activity that encourages teamwork, healthy competition, and a sense of belonging.

The World of Esports
Esports offers students a diverse world of career opportunities where they can explore and find their passion for a wide range of fields. From game design to marketing to law and medicine, there are numerous paths that students can take in their esports studies, depending on their interests and strengths. Esports provides a platform for students to learn and develop the all-important soft skills necessary for success in the World of Esports and beyond. This has become such an important part of the community of esports that a delegation from Japan’s Ministry of Education visited PK Graff and his gamers in Forsyth County, Georgia, at the Academies of Creative Education (ACE) on November 16th, 2022.

The Delegation from the Japanese Ministry of Education and Japanese Press listens intently as the team from ACE addresses them regarding the context of esports in our school district and how FVA is leading the way in terms of academic esports.

This connection was made through Coach Graff’s work with the North America Scholastic Esports Federation (NASEF) as a research fellow and community mentor. On their visit to ACE, the Japanese Delegation learned about how esports is “more than wins and losses.” It is about community, connection, and belonging. They also learned about how esports at ACE is an academic as well as an “athletic” endeavor for the students. Through the Forsyth Virtual Academy (FVA, one part of ACE), Coach Graff is able to teach Esports (an academic elective) to students at all of the eight high schools in Forsyth County Schools. Furthermore, the students in his FVA Esports class have been able to compete in leagues and tournaments hosted by a variety of NASEF affiliates as well as play in a showcase against the New Jersey “State Champions” in a game called Knockout City—which FVA won!

Coach Graff, addressing the Japanese Delegation through his translator, communicates that these gamers are learning more than just how to play a video game. They are learning how to be a member of a community, contribute to a team, manage their emotions, and share with others that which they love, playing video games.

Esports Is a Pipeline for Every Pathway
Esports is community. It is a subject that lends itself well to our students’ attention, and, even more importantly, it represents something that allows us as educators to scaffold with any flavor of career opportunities. Furthermore, this is all happening in a space most students feel comfortable in, and this affords them the opportunity to explore and find their passion from a wide range of fields. From game design to marketing to law and medicine, there are numerous paths that students can take in the realm of esports, depending on their interests and strengths. Esports provides a platform for students to learn and develop the skills necessary to succeed in these fields. Through simulated stress (in video games), we can coach students to become better critical thinkers, team members, communicators, and problem-solvers. Moreover, esports also fosters a sense of community and provides opportunities for students to network, which is fundamental to career success. By participating in esports, students can discover what they love to learn and build a career that aligns with their interests and strengths.

FVA Esports winning the Grand Champions match against the Garden State Esports State Champions at The Esports Summit 2022. The game Knockout City, the location Skillshot Media in Atlanta, the taste of victory, SWEET!