During the coronavirus pandemic, kids are probably going to be (and have been) inside playing more video games. That doesn’t need to be a bad thing. In fact, it can be the springboard to their professional careers.
“I think it’s just a matter of figuring out and respecting what students are passionate about and not just shrugging if off saying they’re just playing video games,” says Ben Leskovansky, a coding instructor and gamer who understands just how big eSports have become and wants to use that popularity to focus kids in the right direction.
“Trying to get them to have that spark of interest into, wow I can make a career out of this, and just talking to them about how to do it in a healthy manner and a balanced manner with life, school, and everything like that,” says Leskovansky.
The way Ben and Destinations Career Academy, an online learning platform, is doing that is by offering a nationwide camp teaching coding and video game design, then an eSports tournament featuring Fortnite, Rocket League and Super Smash Bros.
To get to the fun game playing part in the afternoon session, the kids must go through the morning coding camp.
“It’s a means to expose the kids to the world of eSports and coding and just kind of giving them a chance to see what it’s like to learn online in an online school format,” says Leskovansky.
That’s important for a couple of reasons. One is, as we’ve seen during the pandemic, the ability to learn through virtual platforms is important and only getting more common.
“There is going to be synchronous instruction,” says Leskovansky. “So, there’s going to be a live instructor that the students will be able to interact with and the students are going to get the full experience of learning in an online school.”
Another reason for the camp is eSports are growing by leaps and bounds. The 2018 League of Legends world championship tournament was watched by more people in person and streaming than the 2019 Super Bowl. In fact, Leskovansky sees a parallel between professional football and professional gaming.
“Not every kid out there is going to become a professionally paid competitor, NFL or eSports. But both are whole industries so if a kid is passionate about it they can find a job in the IT support side of things, sort of like an NFL statistician, or they could become a coach of an eSports team just like there are coaches in the NFL. Then there are also commentators on both sides. And then if you look at an eSports arena, that looks like a (traditional sports) arena, the way it’s packed when an event is happening. So, the infrastructure that goes into setting up the consoles, the screens, the whole tournament management is a career opportunity when it comes to eSports.”
This camp was being planned before the COVID-19 outbreak so the timing is strictly coincidental. But it could be a silver lining to what will otherwise likely be a fairly boring summer for many kids.
“I think this is gonna be a great opportunity for a lot of kids that may be stuck at home just due to the circumstances and have a no-pressure educational opportunity as well as a chance to dive deeper into their passion for video games,” says Leskovansky.
The camp is available for 9th through 11th graders and runs June 15-25 and will be followed by a Virtual Reality edition from July 6-16. Best of all, both are completely free. For more information or to sign up your high schooler, click here.