Calling esports a “job machine,” Gerald Solomon, founder and executive director of the North America Scholastic Esports Federation (NASEF), said on a recent podcast called “Let’s Talk STEM with Dr. Calvin Mackie” that electronic sports gaming platforms are preparing young people with the skills they need for the workforce of tomorrow.
“It’s a multibillion-dollar industry and there are all facets within it,” Solomon said, adding that he frequently tells parents about the opportunities for jobs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) throughout the esports / gaming industry.
“You may watch kids playing on a computer, but who built the game,” Solomon asks. “Who coded it? Who set up the event? Who created the networking? Who’s doing the coaching? Who did the data analytics and used mathematics statistics to determine how to play better? Who’s doing the streaming and shoutcasting, which is the play-by-play announcement? Who created the art? Who did the logos? Who did the marketing? Who did the business development on it? Who created the IT infrastructure? That’s all STEM. And that’s the future.”
Solomon noted that at an event at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, 19,000 seats were sold in three hours, selling out the venue. But there’s a bigger story, he noted.
“The real statistic is more people watched kids play computers against other kids on the digital platform called Twitch than the total number of people that watched the Super Bowl, watched the NBA championships and watched the Major League Baseball Championship combined,” he said. “Imagine what it’s like when you have an audience of hundreds of millions of people who just sit there and watch kids play on computers. That tells you the impact of esports gaming.”
A vivid example of esports and STEM learning: NASEF just launched a project that creates a “Farmcraft” world in the popular game Minecraft.
“We’re teaching kids around the world about agriculture biotechnology,” he said. “We’re teaching them about climate change, all of the sustainable developmental goals and issues that we in the world have to face. And they’re doing it all through the play. They work as a team… They’re learning entrepreneurship, they’re learning innovation, they’re doing it through experience. “
Further, Solomon says esports allows children from different backgrounds to play games and compete without any hang-ups over identities.
“You put them together in these clubs and they find their purpose and their sense because they’re with like-minded people,” he exclaims. “And you know, the interesting thing about esports and online gaming is (no one knows) if you’re male or female, if you’re Black or White or Brown. (We) don’t know what your gender preference is. (We) don’t even know what country you’re in. You come in with these avatars and you represent yourself through this lens and you begin to develop relationships and friends.”
Dr. Mackie, who is building a STEM innovation hub in New Orleans that will will include a giant esports arena agrees, added: “Not only do you connect, play and learn, but the kids are getting transferable skills that can transfer to other jobs. There is a litany of different career paths that could come out of esports and gaming. And I think it’s very important for parents to hear that because they can understand that these kids can take this habit that they have, or this hobby, and leap frog into something else.”