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What Is Esports? The Next Step in Inclusive Education

Three teenagers working at desktop monitors while an adult watches

Teenage gaming is getting a facelift – it’s called electronic sports, or esports for short. It’s not just an attempt to make gaming more fashionable. Esports has raving fans in higher education.

Competitive gaming leagues sprung up decades ago with multiplayer online games (MMOs), but it’s only been in the past two years that such leagues have been endorsed by education as a legitimate and valuable extracurricular activity.

It’s now possible to get scholarships, join collegiate leagues, and even develop a career with esports.

Esports leagues exist in all 50 states. High schoolers are stoked – and so are we. Here’s a closer look at this inclusive trend that’s inspiring a new generation of athletes everywhere.

What Is Esports and Why Are Schools Embracing It?

Esports is a form of competitive video gaming that occurs in a structured environment. They typically involve organized teams and leagues much like with other clubs. Students face off against other teams in the school district or even the state in popular video games such as Overwatch or Fortnite.

And they’re hugely popular in high schools. According to the High School Esports League (HSEL), at least 2,500 schools in the US currently compete for digital glory across 14 different games.

Some have even called esports the new NFL. (In 2017, the International Olympic Committee said that esports “could be considered” a sport.)

Esports is a new twist on our traditional ideas about gaming. They buck the stereotype that gamers are antisocial, unhealthy basement dwellers who lack motivation. Instead, competitive gaming leagues bring video games out of the basement and into a social environment where peer-to-peer interactions, creative problem solving, and leadership are developed.

That might sound like a clever marketing line to legitimize gaming, but it’s not. Science has started to prove that these benefits are very real.

The Science Behind Gaming and the Benefits of Esports

In our increasingly digital world, the ability to effectively navigate interactions in cyberspace is becoming more important. Esports is one way students learn good digital citizenship. By linking behavior to sportsmanship, it provides an opportunity to develop good cyber etiquette.

Esports can also address many of the negative impacts video games sometimes have on mental and physical health, namely social isolation and a sedentary lifestyle.

They create a space for students to connect while engaging in an enjoyable activity that would otherwise keep them isolated at home. It also empowers students to show off skills or intelligence that would otherwise go unrecognized in other areas of education. For example, esports has been shown to provide an avenue for students with autism to develop social skills and relationships.

Likewise, early research suggests that esports delivers numerous benefits to students, particularly those who would be otherwise under- or unrepresented in the traditional high school sports environment. In 2018, the University of California found that tailoring esports offerings could also inspire underrepresented demographics to take an interest in STEM.

Increasing Comfortability to Support the Esports Experience

As esports takes off around the country, many schools find themselves faced with the task of upgrading their computer labs to handle the technological requirements for an esports league. If you’re in that boat, we’ve got you covered.

Choose ergonomic solutions to support your students by keeping them comfortable and competitive during the season. We recommend:

1. Investing in wrist protection measures

We typically associate typing with wrist pain, but it’s one of the most common problems afflicting gamers, too. Holding the hand at an unnatural position for hours while manipulating an ultra-sensitive mouse can put strain on the tendons in the wrist that other types of computer work might not.

Ergonomic wrist rests can go a long way in preventing this by helping students hold their hands in more natural positions. Choose from the slim ErgoSoft™ rests designed to sit in front of trackpads or trackballs, or a wrist rest with a mousepad built right in.

2. Choosing a comfortable, wired keyboard

Most serious gamers will tell you that wired peripherals excel when it comes to gaming due to their ability to offer more stable connectivity and responsiveness. A wired keyboard also won’t get confused and freeze when you press multiple keys at once – repeatedly.

A Kensington Comfort Type™ USB keyboard

Our Comfort Type™ USB keyboard is both ergonomic and easy to install. Simply plug it into a computer’s USB port and you’re good to game.

3. Selecting a sensitive, precise mouse or trackball

The ability to aim accurately and interact with the world in-game relies on having a sensitive pointing device. That means you’ll need to equip your gaming league with the right mouse or trackball for the job.

The Pro Fit® line of ergo mice offers both wired and wireless options. Each of them comes with varying levels of functionality such as programmable buttons, wheels and more. You might also consider one of our many ergonomic trackballs. These ultra-precise pointing devices are great for enhancing reflex and response times. 

4. Enhancing the gaming environment with WellView™ products

It’s not just office workers that become 11% more productive with cleaner air – your esports league will, too. That might make a difference in your team’s next match.

A Kensington WellView™ Family product underneath a desktop monitor

The WellView™ Family helps create a cleaner, more comfortable space with air purifiers, heaters, and desk fans that fit conveniently underneath the monitor stand or simply on the desk.

5. Empower teams with quality headphones

Most esports leagues revolve around MMOs, which have in-game voice chat and may also rely on audio clues in a player’s environment. Good headphones are not optional to adequately take advantage of both.

A comfortable set of USB headphones with a mic deliver the sound quality and voice capabilities your teams need to interact with the world and each other in-game.

Kensington Keeps Esports Comfortable and Competitive

Esports is just one of the many ways in which high schools are making education more inclusive. By making competitive video gaming an extracurricular activity, it’s changing the way we think about video games and those who play them. It’s also opening up new opportunities for students to explore career pathways they might not have considered, and empowering students with new ways to connect with each other.

That’s really cool, and we’re thrilled to provide ergonomic solutions for the new breed of athletes.

Check out everything we have for gamers specifically right here.