5 Steps to Designing a New Esports Space
- 4th August 2020
- Anthony Bowie
Academic esports, or competitive video gaming, is a unique extracurricular that has recently taken hold in the K-12 education space. While video games have had a history of bad reputations for distracting children, academic esports have had an amazingly positive impact on students of many ages, benefitting their overall academic performance and social emotional learning.
As the esports trend grows quickly in K-12 schools across the world, many school leaders want to trial an esports program in their own school. However, lack of educator experience with esports and the intimidating cost of most esports equipment leaves many school leaders wondering where to start. Luckily, building an esports program doesn’t have to be done all at once, and it can be modified over time to adjust to the needs of your program as it grows. Kick off the excitement and invite students to dive into esports with a dedicated space designed to motivate and inspire a new way of learning.
Below are five steps to designing a new esports space in your school:
Creating an esports space in your school can seem like a big and expensive commitment when you don’t know how well the extracurricular will catch on with students. Luckily, an esports space can be created almost anywhere in your school that there’s access to outlets and Wi-Fi––an existing computer lab is a great place to start. Begin with an esports corner in your current computer lab, outfitted with just a few gaming computers, and as your team begins to grow in popularity and membership, upgrade your space as you needed.
Having sufficient internet connectivity is crucial to designing a functional esports space and building a successful esports program. Gaming computers should also be hard-wired to the internet in order to maximize speed and avoid spotty connectivity. In online gameplay, even a fraction of a second of delay can be the difference between victory and defeat. No matter how skilled a student is or how fast their reaction time is, lag during gameplay can destroy their chances of winning a tournament.
When choosing furniture for an esports space, you may be tempted to choose consumer options similar to what children use for gaming in their own homes; however, this can be detrimental to students’ health over time. Children are still growing, and it’s important that they’re able to maintain a comfortable and healthy posture while they sit at a computer for several hours. Supportive and comfortable seating and tables that are adjustable are important furniture pieces to have in your esports space from day one.
Many educators make the mistake of assuming a regular PC can handle the demands of esports, but quality monitors, keyboards and controllers, and PCs designed specifically for gaming are crucial to a successful esports program. One small glitch, lag in gameplay, or faulty controller can lead to instant loss of an esports tournament, at no fault of the student or their talent. Purchasing the proper hardware can be expensive when building an esports program from the ground up, so many schools opt for refurbished gaming PCs, which offer the same gaming experience for a smaller investment.
An often-forgotten aspect of designing an esports space is to provide an area for students to take breaks. Esports is a very sedentary extracurricular activity, and it’s important to consider the health implications of sitting for three-four hours at a computer screen. Students need space where they can stand up, move around, and stretch between games, as well as a lounging spot where they can give their eyes a break from screens after an intense match.
As you build a new esports program, you will have to continue to add more equipment, reallocate space, implement safety measures and policies, and develop a brand for your team. But with these five simple steps, you can ensure your program starts off on the right foot with quality technology in a functional and comfortable space to succeed.