As a driving force for esports and professional gaming, SteelSeries has provided support to make gaming more competitive and more fun for anyone, regardless of age. Check out how we're changing the game at the high school level.
While several universities have created dedicated esports programs and even full-ride scholarships, the competitive gaming world is finding another niche among younger players. At some point, many teenagers want to become esports pros. However, there's more to it than just having a desire, and along the path, youth gamers can be exposed to a slew of other benefits with programs like these.
In collaboration with Carrot Group, whose mission is to engage and inspire students to pursue STEAM fields (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) through a variety of programs, SteelSeries provides a package of gaming accessories for the winning team of a tournament series, including the Arctis 1 headset, the Rival 3 mouse, the Apex 3 TKL keyboard, and the QcK Prism mousepad. In addition, they get a customized trophy and a championship ring.
The program works like this: high schools within a school district enter a 9-week program. Over a 6-week season, each school can form up to 10 competing teams. During that period, the teams participate in a round-robin style scoring. Then, the best teams compete against other schools, bringing it down to the top two competitors ready for battle at the championship. In the beginning, every team is assigned a coach, overlooking their progress over the weeks and helping them stay organized.
The most recent Overwatch champs come from Downey High School, in Downey, CA. This is their second victory in a row, beating out their rival, Warren High School. Bassett Unified School District and Compton Unified School District also had high school tournaments in the fall 2021.
"We love being a part of high school esports," said Ehtisham Rabbani, SteelSeries CEO. "Students who compete in high school esports walk away with many advantages, including superior strategy, leadership, and communication skills. Their commitment to their sport and team makes them future leaders – they will run SteelSeries one day."
“I am excited my team won the Championship. We worked hard and learned a lot. Joining the esports program at our school has broadened my ideas for a career,“ said Francisco Sotelo, a student at Bassett High School. “Through esports, I learned how I can apply my skills to different opportunities and plan to study mechanical engineering in college next year to pursue those opportunities.”
Inspiring the scientist, engineers, and game designers of tomorrow
Even if a student doesn’t end up as an esports competitor, the program creates more opportunities beyond just competing in esports. According to research from the Carrot Group, about two-thirds of high school students play video games to some degree, and of that, about 70% go on to major in a STEAM field in college.
"There is so much more to esports than gaming. Aside from the valuable leadership, digital literacy, and collaboration skills, students develop a gaming mentality and that is what companies are looking for when they are trying to fill positions in the STEAM fields," said Alan Zack, President of the Carrot Group. “We see esports and an exciting way to engage and expose students to those fields."
Zack also noted an increase in female participation in games, citing a 14-20% growth in comparison to last year.
It’s more than video games, it’s life skills. All participants had the opportunity to listen to field experts from various disciplines. They got coached on problem-solving, teamwork, leadership, and a healthy competitive mindset. Additional partners, such as Survios, Steel Sports, and Orange Coast College stepped in with virtual workshops covering Workforce Development. Additionally, the students had the awesome opportunity to meet with some of the top games industry professionals at the Gen.G Santa Monica headquarters. Lastly, they can even enroll in game design courses for free, with transferable credits for college.
“The vision of Compton Unified Esports League (CUEL) is to provide equitable access to our district scholars through helping meet their social-emotional needs and building communities through organized play,” said Alvaro Brito, 21st Century Learning Specialist at Compton Unified School District. “Esports is intertwined with game-based learning which helps students build 21st Century skills and prepare them for college and/or career technical education (CTE)."
It's great to see youth taking advantage of resources uniquely provided to them. Esports offer a unique learning opportunity for their future development. As the original esports brand, SteelSeries loves giving gamers the tools they need to compete and strive for glory, whether in video games or in life.