Is it possible to build your STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) skills through esports? Can gaming and esports finally be considered worthwhile pursuits, and does it contribute to the development of our character and skills?
Considering the rapid growth of esports and gaming centers over the last few years, what was once a hobby for outcasts and little kids has now become a successful and integral part of the larger gaming industry. But other than the economic benefits of this practice, new perspectives have appeared that tell of other benefits.
For starters, gaming has been shown to increase mental health  as well as give us a slew of other benefits. And in the past, we’ve also looked at how esports are now a valid form of sport. Gone are the days when the stereotype of the “fat gamer” prevailed. Now, pro gamers need to be at the top of their game both mentally and physically to be able to overcome the challenges they encounter day by day. So let’s talk about some specific benefits. Especially how esports can help develop your STEM skills.
How Esports Helps With Developing STEM Skills
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. At first glance, it might seem tricky to connect gaming to STEM. I mean, come on. One helps with the betterment of humanity, while the other is just an activity we do at our leisure. But is that really the case though?
Let’s take a look at some of the skills required for the STEM field. Firstly, you have to be subtle and have a profound problem-solving capability to excel in it. Secondly, you have to be creative and think outside the box. And thirdly, even though it’s more of a technical field than the humanities for example – you still have to have developed sufficient communication skills to be able to collaborate with a team in accomplishing a project. You may find it surprising to learn that engaging in esports and competitive gaming benefits all three of those aspects. And here’s how.
How Esports Can Develop Your Problem-Solving Capability
STEM is notorious for being a field that requires rigorous problem-solving skills. Certain discoveries in mathematics can take decades until an individual who is savvy enough comes along and finds a solution to the problem. Gaming can keep your brain engaged at all times to nurture this problem-solving capability. Just think about it. How do you improve in something? By constantly doing it over and over again until you get better. That’s exactly what gaming offers but in a fun and engaging package.
The core of any fun gaming experience is overcoming the challenges that the game throws at you. Here is where game developers have to be very careful, because if they pull a cheap trick(like artificially increasing the difficulty), and as a result of that, the challenge aspect of the game feels “weak” – then players will immediately notice. These kinds of critiques are some of the first to come out of a poorly designed game. But a well-made game will ideally keep you challenged and engaged throughout the whole experience, without having to resort to cheap tricks. A challenging experience forces us to activate our brains.
This is how the problem-solving capability so needed for STEM gets developed. If you’re constantly challenged in a fun and engaging way and you constantly overcome the challenges, then over time you get better and better at overcoming those challenges. And in the long run, you’ll grow to love the process. A challenge won’t just cause you anxiety anymore, but it will offer an exciting opportunity to beat the odds and develop your skills further.
The Ways in Which Esports Develop Your Creativity
The second skill that is essential for STEM is creativity. You have to be creative. You have to think outside of the box. Some of the problems that are encountered in the field are entirely unique, and you can’t just solve them with the old methods of thinking and problem-solving.
This is where esports gaming can help again – especially in a competitive environment. In a competitive environment, players are forced to constantly adapt and evolve their way of thinking and playstyle. In MOBAs(Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) for example, pro players often have to come up with new tactics, new builds, and new strategies to gain an edge over their opponents. To do this, they have to think outside of the box and be willing to take a risk. Taking a risk goes hand in hand with thinking outside of the box. If you fail, you try again. If you succeed, you adapt. That’s how thinking outside the box works.
But not only that, many people have been inspired by gaming to get into the tech field, either as developers themselves or from a general interest in technology. Gaming and technology have an intricate relationship, and it isn’t uncommon to find people working in the tech field to also be gamers.
How Your Communications Skills Benefit From Esports
The final aspect of STEM is communication. While not as important for STEM as the previous two skills, it is still essential to be able to optimally coordinate and run a project with a team.
The practice of esports helps a tremendous amount when it comes to developing your communication skills. As most games that are played in esports currently are team games. And not only that, but also the practice of watching and rooting for your favorite team is the same as in any sport, and thus, a community is formed. Once you’re part of a community, you have a sense of belonging.
Over time, you interact, build, nurture relationships, and generally develop the social skills that are required to function in any field. Not only that but as we mentioned earlier, lots of people in the STEM field more often than naught are also interested in gaming. So not only do esports and game centers help develop your social skills, but they also offer an environment where you can network and meet potential partners and colleagues for future projects. And it isn’t uncommon to find tech companies that organize or support some sort of gaming event, as those kinds of events are great team-building exercises.
How Gaming Centers Can Be Used to Develop STEM Skills Through Esports
Gaming centers offer an environment where all of these skills that we mentioned can be nurtured. We previously looked at the viability and growth of gaming centers, and this is what we found out. Not only are they growing in popularity the world over, but they’re an essential part of hosting esports events. And as we discussed previously, it’s these kinds of events that help develop our skills.
Everybody benefits from the experience. The eventgoers get to sharpen their social and communication skills, the pro players get to sharpen their problem-solving and creative thinking abilities, and organizers get the prestige and a host of other benefits from the whole experience. It’s an exciting and fun experience for all. Regardless of where you stand on the matter, it’s become undeniable at this point. Gaming isn’t just a useless time waster as was previously believed. Now, thanks to studies and developments within our cultures, gaming has finally come to be accepted as a useful and worthy endeavor. Especially considering the multitude of benefits that it brings to students who are pursuing the STEM field.
- Jones, C., Scholes, L., Johnson, D., Katsikitis, M., & Carras, M. C. (2014). Gaming well: links between videogames and flourishing mental health. Frontiers in Psychology. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00260