100 Clicks is Becoming 100 Yards; The Rise of Video Gaming

Totee Setthachuea, Staff Writer

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Imagine a world where the superstars of the world aren’t buff athletes or glamorous pop stars, but instead, scrawny teens who lock themselves inside their homes playing video games all day. That world is already becoming a reality in South Korea, and the same phenomena is rapidly disseminating in the west.  

This is the brave new world of Esports.  

Esports are already catching up to real sports in terms of popularity, production quality, viewership and player wages.  As the sports world is shifting towards the digital age, why haven’t high schools caught up to the trend? The majority of high schools are stuck in the past and should invest in an Esports program to keep up with future trends.

The Esports industry has boomed in the 21st century with players earnings being in the millions.  Sang Hyeok Lee, or “Faker” as he is known in game, is the superstar of League of Legends, a competitive 5 vs 5 arena game created by Riot Games that is the most played computer game in the world.  Faker has earned $1,169,713.36 just on prize money alone, not to mention the fact that these players also receive salaries from the team they represent as well as sponsorships and viewership when streaming.

Established sports team have already seen the Esports trend and many are heading towards creating Esport teams themselves. For example, at the start of the 2018 League of Legends Championship Series Spring Split, the Golden State Warriors hopped on the Esports money train and debuted their team called the Golden Guardians.

The fact of the matter is that there is huge money in the Esports industry and if we want to cultivate students to be able to tap into that reservoir, then establishing a high school Esports program is the way to go.

Some may say that video games are a distraction to academics, but it is quite the contrary. Gerald Solomon, the executive director of the Samueli Foundation, an organization whose mission is to “empower people to more fully realize their true potential ,” believes that high school Esports “will help students grow their STEM interests and skill sets,” and “these will be needed for success in the future workforce.” Solomon and his foundation partnered with the Orange County School District in order to launch the Orange County High School Esports League in hopes that it will guide students through the STEM fields.

Clairemont High School is already proving Solomon’s belief to be true by establishing a student run Esport club established by Kevin Nguyen, Casey Nguyen, and Totee Setthachuea. Kevin Nguyen, the current president of the club, has become a more studious student due to his Esport experience.  Nguyen is tasked with working hard in improving his League of Legends skills on top of leading the club’s meeting and researching tournaments the club can attend. Being a skilled player required him to be a diligent learner and worker while organizing club affairs honed his organization skill.  These attributes translated to his academics as his GPA each year considerably rose compared to his freshman year.

To further help bolster student’s academic grades, colleges are now offering scholarships as an incentive to students who are skilled at video games.  For instance, UC Irvine is offering scholarships of $5610 for students who are at least master rank, the second highest rank in League of Legends. This incentive will motivate students to get good grades as well as discipline themselves to get better at a game.

Like all things, the interests of students come in various shapes and forms.  Some are suited for the athletic life while some prefer utilizing their skills in the digital world. However, students in the latter situation have little or no representation in high schools, despite the fact that the purpose of the institution is to nurture students to pursue their interests in order for them to flourish later in careers. High schools all around the nation should invest in an Esport program to better equip students who are looking forward to being apart of a growing multi-million industry.

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100 Clicks is Becoming 100 Yards; The Rise of Video Gaming