“Behind a glass partition at the Microsoft store at the Roosevelt Field Mall on Long Island, 10 teenage boys settled into seats in a rectangular formation. Each sat behind a laptop computer, ears warmed by a bulky headset. Parents and grandparents circled the room, peering over shoulders at screens.The room had the feel of a sporting event, and it was — a group of competitive video gamers on the Bay Shore High School e-sports team were competing in a scrimmage and playing their way toward college scholarships.” A.Dollinger, The New York Times
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
“Multiplayer video games played competitively, often with spectators, are known as e-sports, and they have became a gateway to college scholarship money. Over the past two years, the National Association of Collegiate Esports, which is engaged with 98 varsity programs across the United States and Canada, has helped to facilitate $16 million in scholarships, according to the executive director, Michael Brooks. In higher education, e-sports live in various departments. Sometimes they are part of student affairs; some schools place them within an engineering or design program; and, more rarely, they have their place in athletics.
At Robert Morris University Illinois, e-sports is part of the athletics department. Team members have access to athletic trainers and are put through light fitness training. Players attend practice Monday through Thursday, from 4:30 to 9 p.m., with an hour break for dinner. They analyze film, participate in team-building activities, sit for communication sessions.
‘The games that are competitively viable in the collegiate sphere have real depth, have deep levels of strategy, and require strategic teamwork and require real mastery to be successful — and not just by yourself, within a team environment and through using tactics,’ said Kurt Melcher, who runs the program at Robert Morris.
A few years out of college, Mr. Melcher was the soccer coach and associate athletic director for Robert Morris By 2013, he noticed a college community emerging. Students were organizing themselves, creating their own opportunities for gaming. So he took a proposal to the university administration: What if game play were an athletic endeavor? ‘If you look at sports, how do you define what is more of a sport? Is football more of a sport than men’s tennis or women’s tennis, and is golf more or less of a sport than hockey?’ he said.
Today, almost 90 Robert Morris students play, and about 80 of them receive e-sports scholarships, Mr. Melcher said. Varsity-level players can receive scholarships that cover up to 70 percent of their tuition; reserve players receive 35 percent tuition coverage.
At the University of California Irvine, where e-sports fall under student affairs, gamers must try out for a team and scholarship offers come later. There are 23 students on e-sports scholarships at U.C.I. this year, on varsity and junior varsity teams, said Mark Deppe, who runs the university’s e-sports program.
There’s discipline involved, there’s practice involved, there’s teamwork and collaboration involved, but also the physical aspect,” said Mark Candella, known as Garvey, the director of strategic partnerships for the streaming platform Twitch. ‘These young people can do up to 360 controlled precise actions per minute. Their fingers and hands and their eyes move so quickly in exact coordination.’
Organized competitive gaming on both the high school and university levels lives in purposeful defiance of the gamer stereotype: as Mr. Melcher said, ‘a kid locked in a basement, antisocial, angry, drinks 50 Mountain Dews and doesn’t sort of become a valuable person in society.’ In the educational sphere, game play often brings students out of basements and bedrooms.
At Bay Shore High School, Ryan Champlin, a senior, started the team with the help of his father, Chris; younger brother, Kyle; and computer teacher, Mike Masino. The team is part of the school’s computer club.
‘The Silicon Valley school is offering almost a full ride,’ Ryan said, in the form of an athletics scholarship for e-sports and a leadership scholarship that would make him assistant director of the e-sports program.The same scholarship if I was playing football or lacrosse.”
NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.
Level: Intermediate – Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: Approximately 2 hours.
Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.
Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.
I. Pre-Reading Activities
Stimulating background knowledge: Brainstorming
Directions: Place students in groups, ask students to think about what they already know about the topic of E-Sports. Next, have students look at the pictures in the text and generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article. Regroup as a class and list these ideas on the board. Students can use a brainstorming chart for assistance.
II. While Reading Activities
Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.
- A group of competitive video gamers were competing.
- They were part of an e-sports team.
- Team members have access to athletic trainers.
- Members participate in team-building activities.
- The games are competitively viable in the collegiate sphere.
- Mr. Melcher wanted the games to be an athletic endeavor.
- Varsity-level players can receive scholarships that cover up to 70 percent of their tuition.
- Players scrimmage other teams.
- The league has dozens of recruiters looking for scholarship candidates.
- Their fingers and hands and their eyes move so quickly in exact coordination.
Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentences taken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.
Meanwhile, some___ offer___ scholarships not associated with ___or specific games. New York University awards an e-sports___ to one student per year who is ___in the gaming ___and interested in ___in some part of the ___industry.
WORD LIST: gaming, teams, community, scholarship, active, e-sports, schools, working,
Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage
Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.
- There is 10 teenage boys settled into seats ready to play.
- Each sat behind a laptop computer.
- Parents and grandparents circled the room.
- Multiplayer video games are played competitively.
- In higher education, e-sports live in various departments.
- Players attends practice Monday through Thursday.
- Today, almost 90 Robert Morris students play.
- E-sports players at U.C.I. devote 15 to 20 hour a week.
- There’s discipline, practice, and teamwork involved.
Directions: Place students in groups and have each group list 3 questions they would like to pursue in relation to the article. Have groups exchange questions. Each group tries to answer the questions listed. All responses are shared as a class.Groups can search online for additional information about E-Sports.
1-Minute Free Writing Exercise
Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading. Ask them to write down one thing they did not understand in the reading. Review the responses as a class. Note: For the lower levels allow more time for this writing activity.