Esports in Education By Paul Richards – Book Summary and Review

After completing the read of  Esports in Education: Exploring Educational Value in Esports Clubs, Tournaments and Live Video Productions, I decided it make sense to provide a summary and a book review.

I also did a chapter-by-chapter notes summary for anyone looking to grasp all the information without having to read the book. That took way too long to produce so I won’t do it for other books but enjoy this one.

I am not affiliated or connected with the author. This summary and review were created to be as honest and truthful as possible.

If you are interested in purchasing the book or audiobook and haven’t already, please use my Amazon Affiliate link, here, as it will help me create more articles like this one! 😊

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Overall Summary

The book dives into the world of gamified education and the educational values introduced with the integration of esports teams and clubs into high schools and colleges.

The book references a number of research papers on the value and implementation of gamified education and is a great resource to help educators navigate how to get the most education from students participating in gaming in the classroom.

The book also provides an introduction into the world of esports, documenting the catalysts for gaming, the top esports tournaments to be aware of and other established organizations supporting the development of esports in educational institutions. It speaks to the various skills students can acquire by being involved in their esports clubs and teams, the career paths within esports and how a student can start their own esports club.

Lastly, the book provides an in-depth breakdown of broadcasting within student clubs, club tournaments and building out more professional broadcasting announcements.

Overall Review

Overall, I was a bit disappointed with the book’s inability to stay focused on communicating the value of esports in schools and gamification in learning.

I say this only because there is such a need for well-written in-depth literature on the subject and the book could have delivered on that better. If the author adopted the notion that the reader would have some awareness of esports or would learn the basics of esports outside the book, that would have allowed him to stay focused.

Since I work with older aged professionals as a consultant, I can understand the thought process behind going that approach, but too much of the book’s contents was dedicated to educating the reader on esports instead of the book’s actual purpose.

The book mostly touches on its subject matter from a very high-level perspective will proceeding to make the majority of the book an esports 101 book with a few chapters dedicated to running an esports club and a few others about how to broadcast a tournament.

The content for the latter 2 topics was decent but since they were restricted to a few chapters, most of it was rushed (let alone irrelevant).

The book itself was created from the right frame of mind, to communicate the value of esports and gamification in learning, but quickly lost focus on its mission after chapter 6.

The book would have been much more valuable if it stayed consistent with its overarching theme.

Strengths

Chapters 1 to 5 were pretty good and informative, addressing the key issues around gamification in learning such as the stigmas associated with gaming and the lack of academic research on the subject matter.

The author also provided some established college and university bodies educators should be aware of within the US.

Lastly, although to me it was very rushed and overwhelming, the technology around broadcasting was by far the greatest part of the book. Clearly, the author knew his stuff on the topic exceptionally well, which makes sense as he is the chief broadcast officer for StreamGeeks.

Weakness

Once again, the only reason I’m as harsh on the book as I am is because it could have been so much more if the book just went deep into its main subject body. The author referenced several pieces of literature and many of the chapters could have been dedicated to breaking down the contents of those different research papers and literature to argue the value of esports and gaming in the book. The author did some of it, but he could have taken it deeper and to another level to strengthen his arguments and the implementation of it.

Instead, the author wrote with the assumption that the reader would have no knowledge of the functionality of esports and turned the book into an esports 101 between chapters 6 to 13 and a how-to-broadcast book between chapters 14 to 20. The how-to part wouldn’t have been too detrimental if it was implemented properly.

However, the author provided a very high-level breakdown of starting an esports club (strangely written for students instead of educators) and an overly-compact technology guide. Especially considering he wrote this book with the mindset that the reader doesn’t know much about esports, the fact that he proceeded to write the technology guide in a way where even I struggled to fully grasp what was happening half the time.

Lastly, this is comical if nothing else but in one part of the book, the author used a r/explainlikeimfive Reddit thread as a reference. This doesn’t discredit the research done by the author or the quality of content in the book, but it is worth noting nonetheless.

Chapter-By-Chapter Summary Notes

Below I for some reason decided to take it upon myself to make summary notes for each chapter. I tried my best to pull all the important information if someone wanted to take away the key points without having to read the whole book or if they wanted to reference key information in the future.

This took me a while so I hope you enjoy it!

Here is the list of chapter titles:

  • Chapter 1: Meet the Future
  • Chapter 2: Common Grounds in Esports and Education
  • Chapter 3: A Brief History of Video Games
  • Chapter 4: The Study of Video Games
  • Chapter 5: Getting The Most Educational Value Out of Video Games
  • Chapter 6: From Teenage Pastime to the International Stage
  • Chapter 7: What is Driving the Esports Phenomenon?
  • Chapter 8: Types of Esports
  • Chapter 9: Top Esports Tournaments
  • Chapter 10: College Level Esports Programs
  • Chapter 11: Careers in Esports
  • Chapter 12: Esports and Traditional Sports in College
  • Chapter 13: An Insider View Into Esports
  • Chapter 14: Starting an Esports Club at Your School
  • Chapter 15: Side By Side Broadcast Clubs and Esports
  • Chapter 16: Morning Announcements and Esports Shoutcasters
  • Chapter 17: Hosting an Esports Tournament
  • Chapter 18: Live Streaming a Basic Esports Tournament
  • Chapter 19: Advanced Esports Tournament Live-Streaming
  • Chapter 20: How to Design an Audiovisual Display for Esports
  • Chapter 21: An Optimistic View of Esports and Education

Chapter 1: Meet the Future

  • Mostly just fluff/motivational intro chapter
    • Author starts off the chapter by discussing The Summit 3 by GIGABYTE and it’s a broadcast production
    • Discussed how the StreamGeek Summit joined with HighSchool.GG to host a student-run broadcast of an esports tournament in NYC

Chapter 2: Common Grounds in Esports and Education

  • Team members of the esports team cultivate skills such as:
    • Cooperation
    • Identifying strengths and weaknesses of members
    • Communications skills
    • Solving advanced problems
    • Evaluating who’s strength works best in what situations
    • Hard work
    • Patience
  • 90% of students between 13 and 17 play video games daily

Chapter 3: A Brief History of Video Games

  • The first PC game was Nimatron, released in 1939 and based on the game Nim
  • Odyssey, released in the 1970s, was the first gaming machine open to the public to be played at a player’s home
  • The first coin based arcade game came out in 1972 called Pong
  • Here are the following companies that entered into the video game console market, referred by the author as the “Console Creation Wars”:
    • In 1989, Sega released the first console called Sega Genesis
    • Nintendo quickly followed with their Super NES
    • Sony and Microsoft joined in the war afterwards
  • Games like League of Legends changed the industry with their successful free-to-play model with microtransactions and the decision to provide updates instead of sequels
  • Games that have an enjoyable success spectator mode enjoyed massive lucrative exposure from emerging streaming platforms like Twitch.Tv
  • In 2017, the game Fortnite was released with its new battle royale game genre. The game, following the business model of LoL, was incredibly popular for children ages 12 and 13
    • The game became so popular, in 2018 they identifiably stole League of Legend’s market share. League of Legends lost nearly $1 billion in 2018 (compared to the prior year) while Fortnite became the world’s most popular video game

Chapter 4: The Study of Video Games

  • In 2001, Espen Aarseth released the first-ever academic and peer-reviewed journal dedicated to computer game studies called Computer Game Studies (available on gamestudies.org)
  • In 2010, José P. Zagel published the popular book called Ludioliteracy which takes a deep dive into what he calls “Game Education”
  • According to Zagel, there are three types of games studies. Social sciences, humanity and industry/engineering
  • Video games can incorporate a chance of a reward in which dopamine is released more than a guarantee in reward. As a result, having students learn through games that are more addictive and enjoyable to navigate may result in students being more willing to learn
  • In 2019, MIT published the academic paper “The Educational Arcade” which is composed of use cases of gaming’s impact on the classroom.
  • In 2017, Temple University professors wrote “Esports Management: Embracing Esports Education and Research Opportunities” that attempts to prove that esports should be accepted as a “real sport” in where they qualify 5 key points on why esports should be seen as a real sport:
    • Consumer recognition as a sport
    • Organizational structure qualify activity as a sport
    • Esports represents a novel area of sport management research, education and practice
    • Sports expertise can result in emerging dilemmas facing esports
    • organized esports events should remain within sport management
  • Gehrig Rosen of Palomar College’s Independent Newspaper says “Anything that has a strong competitive format, requires a specific set of skills, great hand-eye coordination and training, is a sport”

Chapter 5: Getting The Most Educational Value Out of Video Games

  • The World Health Organization classifies gaming addictions as a mental health disorder
  • The issues listed in the chapter in relation to addicted gamers are as follows:
    • Disconnection from Reality: Mind always wonders about the game, gamers become less interested in non-gaming activities (even to a point where all non-gaming activities are a bother) and always think about the game
    • Social Isolation: Young people who have social anxiety and lack social skills compound their weaknesses by using technology as an escape. In Hong Kong, the problem is so bad they call young non-sociable people “Herbivore Men”
    • Physical Health Issues: Lack of exercise results in decreased muscle mass, increased risk of obesity, heart disease, depression and shorter life expectancy. Even new studies report that sitting all day is as bad for humans as smoking (from Alternet.org called “Is Sitting Worse Than Smoking?”)
    • Brain Damage: Exposure to TV, smartphones and computers affect the brain negatively

Note: although the author fails to explain why or how, I’d make an assumption that the overexposure of artificial blue light prior to bed results in an inability to sleep, and according to Matthew Walker’s book “Why We Sleep”, he argues that sleep is even more important to brain and body health than exercise and diet combined. This however may not be the basis for this argument the author makes, but he failed to explain what specifically causes these brain issues he speaks of.

    • Addiction, Aggression, and Attention-Deficit: Studies show games hurt a gamer’s long-term attention span. Games also activate the same brain centers that illicit drugs do to cause addictions
    • Lack of Sleep: Many younger gamers play into the night resulting in less sleep.
  • ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) ratings rate games to help parents better understand if a game is suitable for their child. They use the following symbols:
    • eC (Early Childhood)
    • E (Everyone)
    • E10+ (Everyone 10+)
    • T (Teen 13+)
    • M (Mature 17+, similar to R movies)
    • AO (Adults Only, similar to NC-17 movies)
    • RB (Rating Pending, not rated)
  • When deciding games for educational value, consider if the game has usable skills, deals with economics, does the game provoke thoughtful behaviors (or does it result in just mindless repetitive actions), are there puzzles or problem-solving, does the game require teamwork, does the game spark creativity?
  • Positive impacts from gaming include:
    • Improved hand-eye coordination
    • Analysis and logic development
    • Improved spatial and situational awareness
    • Economic Management
    • Logistics development for city planning if the game induces such gameplay
    • Teamwork
    • Problem Solving and strategy
    • Quick-thinking and accuracy
  • Gamification in education has been shown to improve learning in the following situations:
    • For children with autism or ADHD
    • Learning English
    • Teaching statistics
    • Medical training
    • Combat readiness (for the military)
  • Games are most alluring to young people for the following reasons:
    • Providing controlled challenges that are rewarding to complete
    • Growth by failing, experience and learning and compounding that growth into results
    • Certain games provide player statuses, allowing young people the feeling of being important when winning or a need to climb the ranking ladder when lower than peers
  • Games also allow people to experience fantasies, engaging experiences in safe environments and regulate feelings such as loneliness and stress
  • Certain games, classified as educational video games, are created with the intent to use gaming to reach school subjects. With these games, non-educational video games still have educational lessons to be taken away from
  • Certain games teach patience, which has a stronger correlation to success than IQ
  • To understand and help students learn from a game, they should take the following actions:
    • Playing the game themselves, turning the adult as an ally and fellow gamer
    • Create a safe space for students to take about their gameplay by engaging with them as if you were also a student (such as letting students “school you” in a game)
    • Schedule game times and allocate them towards later in the game as some students struggle to turn back to school-focus after gaming. Also limiting time and weekdays is important to prevent other issues with excessive gaming
  • To help students better learn from gaming, include these gaming objectives into the learning environment:
    • Educate and extract the educational values from the process of accomplishing game objectives and creating plans on how to get it done
    • Have students journal about their gaming experience, including their problems, the strategies to resolve these problems and identify reasons for failure
    • Ask students questions on their in-game choices to have them practice communication and problem-solving skills

Chapter 6: From Teenage Pastime to the International Stage

  • Only 2 out of 10 adults past the age of 35 known that esports exist (sourced from Newzoo)
  • The first esports tournament was the 1972 “Intergalactic Spacewar Olympics” hosted by Standford University
  • The video game industry between 2012 to 2016 was recognized as the fastest-growing entertainment industry in the world with a sustained YoY of 6%
  • Over 50% of the esports industry’s revenue comes from China and North America
  • The highest-earning player, Kuro Takhamosi, earned over $4 million from esports

Chapter 7: What is Driving the Esports Phenomenon?

  • Competition drives motivation for athletes
  • Cloud-based gaming and mobile-based gaming allowed esports to have reduced barriers of entry
  • Publishers directly support esports to benefit their games involved
  • The following technological advancements have contributed to the rise of esports’ popularity:
    • Advancements in video games
    • Advancements in hardware
    • Fastest and more accessible internet speed
    • Live streaming platforms
    • Multiplayer video games
    • Spectators
    • Competitions and tournaments
  • Current estimates show up to 40% of those who watch esports have never played the games they watch

Chapter 8: Types of Esports

  • This chapter lists out the different types of main genres in esports. He includes:
    • Player vs Players, PvP (examples Super Smash Bros and Mortal Kombat)
    • First-Person Shooters, FPS (examples Call of Duty, Overwatch, Counter-Strike, Fortnite)
    • Real-Time Strategy, RTS (examples Civilizations Series, XCOM 2, Hearthstone)
    • Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, MOBA (Examples DOTA2, League of Legends
    • Sport Simulation (examples FIFA series, NBA2K, Madden NFL, various car racing games)
    • Sport Simulation games specifically are great for encouraging students to also take real-life action outside the gaming sessions to be interested in real sports

*Note the author excluded a lot of the important genres. For more information, click here to go to a better resource.

Chapter 9: Top Esports Tournaments

*Note, I’m really not a fan of how the tournaments and leagues are laid out, but I wrote it as it was in the book

  • The top worldwide esports tournaments:
    • The international (DOTA 2 tournament)
    • Fortnite Wolrd Cup (Fortnite tournament)
    • Counter-Stike: Global Offensive Major tournaments (CS:GO tournaments)
  • The top North American tournaments:
    • Evolution Championship Series
    • Cancom Cup
    • Halo World Championship Series
  • The top Asian tournaments:
    • League of Legends Championships Korea
    • Global Starcraft 2 League
    • PUBG Mobile India Series
    • League of Legends India Champions Cup
  • The top European tournaments:
    • DreamHack
    • GameBattle UK
  • The top professional esports leagues:
    • League of Legends World Championship
    • Call of Duty World League
  • The top North American esport leagues encouraging the growth of esports into educational systems:
    • PlayVS + National Federation of State High School (NFHS)
    • High School Esports League (HSEL)
    • Varsity Esports Federation (VESF)
    • Esports Gaming Federation (EFGH)
    • North American Scholastic Esports Federation (NASEF)
    • Legacy Esports
  • The top college esports leagues:
    • National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE)
  • The most established esports programs within a university:
    • Maryville University of Saint Louis
    • Robert Morris University Illinois
    • Miami University
    • University of California-Irvine
    • University of Utah

Chapter 10: College Level Esports Programs

  • There are more than 125 varsity level esports programs registered under NACE
  • Harrisburg University provides full scholarships to esports players
  • Newhouse School: Syracuse University has launched an esports course called “Esport & Media” in collaboration with Twitch. The course helps students learn about:
    • The entrepreneurial side of the gaming industry
    • An understanding of esports’ intersection with media and broadcasting
    • History lessons of esports development
    • Esports technology and other business models
    • In-depth look at leagues/teams/tournaments/streaming services
    • Opportunity for students to produce original content with esports organizations
  • The University of Washington established a 1,000 square-foot gaming center, becoming the largest public university to have a space dedicated to esports. It has 40 PCs, 2 VR stations and a broadcast station

Chapter 11: Careers in Esports

  • Emil Bodenstein said the following “If you want your team to win, you have to hire scouts, and even international scouts. Because these esports franchises are competing worldwide, talent scouting will become a massive job in esports”.
  • A report by Golden Saches estimated in 2017 that by 2022, media rights will make 40% of esports revenue, increasing dramatically from the 14% of 2017.

Chapter 12: Esports and Traditional Sports in College

  • EA spends billions in royalties to official sports networks to develop their popular line of video games
  • Deborah M. Gryzbowski, the co-director of game studies and esports curriculum at Ohio State says “Companies have noted to various people on campus that we’re not putting out students with all the skills that they need to fill job openings they have in the esports area.”
  • According to Jadd Schmeltzer, “70% of students stop playing sports at the age of 13”. Therefore sport video games can be used to increase the exposure of sports to students. This is further supported considering 90% of teens play video games every day

Chapter 13: An Insider View Into Esports

  • The age range for professional esports competitors is typically between 18 to 25. After 25, a player’s ability to stay competitive significantly declines. Younger than 18 typically aren’t mature enough to understand strategy (as a general rule, not an overarching principle)
  • Esports is typically easier to go pro than traditional due to no physical barriers such as size and amount of time you can train
  • Esports arenas are an unknown market currently. Some people would argue they’ve grown too quick while others think if cities don’t get on board now, they may miss out on massive ROI

Chapter 14: Starting an Esports Club at Your School

  • To start an esports club, take the following steps (taken directly from the subtitles in the chapter):
    • Find a teacher or faculty member mentor
    • Get the word out
    • Write what your club is down on paper
    • Recruit your team
    • Organizing your team
    • Esports Club Meeting Agenda (image below, from page 68 of the book)
    • Team Branding
    • Team Building
    • Equipment Setup
    • Online tools
    • Training
    • Cloud-based gaming

Chapter 15: Side By Side Broadcast Clubs and Esports

The chapter is too technical to document here. Sorry!

Chapter 16: Morning Announcements and Esports Shoutcasters

The chapter is too technical to document here. Sorry!

Chapter 17: Hosting an Esports Tournament

  • American Psychologist reports “70% of gamers play with a friend” and “Playing video games, including violent shooter games, may boost children’s learning, health, and social skills” in 2014
  • Scott Novism refers to gamers spending too much time in front of a screen as “Synthetic Autism” when it affects social development skills
  • Tournaments create opportunities for students to play face-to-face and develop these social skills

Chapter 18: Live Streaming a Basic Esports Tournament

  • Through this experience, students can learn production, camera operation, social media, announcing, journalism, etc

The rest is way too technical to document here. Sorry!

Chapter 19: Advanced Esports Tournament Live-Streaming

The rest is way too technical to document here. Sorry!

Chapter 20: How to Design an Audiovisual Display for Esports

The rest is way too technical to document here. Sorry!

Chapter 21: An Optimistic View of Esports and Education

  • 50% of teens admit that they are “addicted to their devices”