Nov 02 2021

Level Up Your Team with Tech That Supports K–12 Esports Content Creators

An esports program is made up of more than student athletes. Here’s how districts can invest in the team behind the team.

At St. Lucie Public Schools in Florida, students engage in competitive video gaming, known as esports. But behind the team of players, there’s another team of content creators — student journalists, graphic designers, broadcasters and others.

“The entrepreneurial spirit that they’re learning through the club activities is priceless. They’re gaining those future-ready skills that they can then take into the workforce, with real-world applications that they need in everyday life,” says Laurie Boyer, the district’s magnet schools coordinator and a founding member of the Florida Scholastic Esports League.

To further students’ skills in these content creator roles, schools can invest in technologies to support these activities, bringing an added dimension of learning to the esports experience.

Who Are the Esports Content Creators?

Esports start with the coaches and players, but the experience can go much further. To level up an esports program, all of the roles on the team need to be coached and supported in developing their skills.

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“You have students who are playing the game — those who are competing — but behind those people there are a lot of jobs, most of which are in STEM,” says Chris Aviles, a STEM teacher and esports coach at Monmouth Beach School District. “They may be software developers or website developers. They might be shoutcasters, streamers, journalists, graphic designers, videographers or fandom art creators.”

With content creators participating in esports, already the program has more depth and professionalism. These students play a pivotal role in supporting the team. They set the tone for the tournaments and matches, and they help make their team’s success known to others in the district or community.

“There are people who write scripts for the opening, figuring out the language and the messaging involved in setting up the stories of you and your opponents,” says AJ Dimick, director of operations for the University of Utah’s esports program. “There are virtual camera. operators, quality control people, audio engineers — it’s all the roles in content creation that you’d see prevalent in mainstream sports.”

And much like mainstream sports, there are scholarships, internships and careers for these esports content creators as well. “Ultimately, what we’re trying to do is educate our students and create opportunities for curriculum pathways and career pathways,” says Gerald Solomon, founder and executive director of the North America Scholastic Esports Federation (NASEF).

WATCH NOW: Experts discuss the ways K–12 schools can start a successful esports program.

What Technology Supports an Advanced Esports Program?

It’s possible to stand up an esports team with just a few robust gaming PCs — but that’s the bare minimum in technology needed. For schools looking to build a comprehensive program, an investment in the appropriate tech can help bring content creator roles to life.

“Ideally, they’ll want desktop computers for the players and for the supporting people,” Aviles says. “You may need graphic design software, video editing tools, and streaming and broadcasting applications. You need cameras and microphones and video capture tools.”

These technologies may be overlooked in the initial creation of an esports program, but they’re necessary for an advanced team. Without this technology, content creators can’t perform their roles or support the athletes. They, too, need equipment on which to learn and practice.

Gerald Solomon Esports
Ultimately, what we’re trying to do is educate our students and create opportunities for curriculum pathways and career pathways.”

Gerald Solomon Founder and Executive Director, North America Scholastic Esports Federation

Even at the high school level, a strong tech deployment can enhance performance across the various supporting roles. “Good microphones and cameras and software are the bare minimum for content creators,” Dimick says. “Then you can start adding audio boards, or a video mixer so you can take in as many as ten different shots. There are a lot of schools across the country that are becoming known for really innovative production.”

By supporting content creators with the appropriate tools, high schools can leverage the power of a competitive program in support of academic goals, Solomon says. “Gaming is really just an entry point. It’s the opportunity for kids to come in who may not be competitive gamers, but who like to play and who may be artistic,” he adds. “Students can connect what they enjoy doing with opportunities that often they don’t see for themselves or that they don’t even know exist.”

What Are the Benefits of Investing in Esports Content Creators?

Both schools and students benefit when content creators are equipped with the right tech. For the schools, an investment in technology here can support tangible academic outcomes, while driving greater impact from their IT spend.

“Being serious about esports means being serious about STEM,” Aviles says. “By investing in the high-end devices, investing in the cameras and microphones, you’re investing in STEM.”

Click the banner below to discover more information on leveling up your K–12 esports team.

Tech that supports content creation enables design classes and video editing instruction. “That cutting-edge tech enables schools to introduce students to larger computer-assisted design projects too,” Aviles notes.

He convinced his district to invest in the esports equipment his program needed by discussing the opportunity to use the tech for STEM lessons during the day. Now, Monmouth Beach School District has a STEM lab that’s improving students’ academic skills during school hours and then transforms, after the final bell, into an esports lab.

Boyer has also seen a range of student benefits from having a well-rounded esports program. By engaging in content creation, her students find self-expression. They connect with their peers and ultimately set themselves up for success.

“From a social-emotional standpoint, it connects them to their campus. It makes them a part of the culture, which is huge. When kids are connected, that’s going to increase their engagement,” she said.

Overall, these experts say, technology in support of content creation helps to level up an esports program, using the competitive play environment to fulfill a higher a range of educational objectives.

KEEP READING: Why should you invest in upgrading your school esports teams?

Photography by Colin Lenton