New North America Scholastic Esports Federation Launches Learning and Gameplay into High Schools Nationwide

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Forward-thinking schools can join the only national organization that closely ties scholastics with video gameplay in a free competitive esports league and classroom curriculum; ISTE and Games for Change attendees invited to panel sessions to learn more

A crowd of students watches an esports game on a giant screen in a large arena.

Students cheer on their teams as rival high schools battle for the esports championship title

Millions of teenagers are playing esports in their free time. The new North America Scholastic Esports Federation will provide schools with tools to give teens a complete experience that combines the fun of gaming with deeply embedded education on relevant real-world skills.

The North America Scholastic Esports Federation (NASEF), previously known as the Orange County High School Esports League, has developed a research-based method to incorporate significant educational elements into league play of popular video games while maintaining an authentic gamers’ experience.

The Scholastic Esports Federation commissioned research by leading games and learning experts to develop a model system that is now available to schools across North America for free. NASEF is not just tapping into the student base to build a sizable dues-paying player community, nor does it give a quick nod to a handful of skills that are used by every player.

“Millions of teenagers are playing esports in their free time, leading many parents and educators to wonder how to infuse positive elements into the outrageously popular video game community and culture,” said Dr. Constance Steinkuehler, Professor of Informatics at UC Irvine and NASEF’s Education and Research Lead. “The new North America Scholastic Esports Federation will provide schools with the tools they need to give teens a complete experience that combines the fun of gaming with deeply embedded education on relevant real-world skills.”

With the guidance of several partners, including the Orange County Department of Education, researchers from UC Irvine, and UCI Esports (the 2018 College League of Legends National Champion), the experience is much deeper:

  • Near-peer coaches guide students to develop social-emotional skills and build a positive gaming culture, as well as improve their gameplay.
  • Professionals lead career-focused workshops incorporating engineering, technology, and entrepreneurship principles.
  • Students are mentored to build crucial 21st century skills in communication, collaboration, and teamwork.
  • A new high school English Language Arts curriculum teaches timeless reading and writing skills with next-generation esports at its core, with STEM principles and elements of Career Technical Education woven throughout.

Through the first half of 2018, the Orange County High School Esports League piloted a program with 38 teams from 25 schools. Unanimous enthusiasm from students to parents to teachers led to the creation of this new Esports Federation, which will guide schools through creation of their own local leagues that can participate in tournaments with others from across the country.

“Approximately 91 percent of our kids have an interest in video games. The power of these games when used to teach and learn core content is phenomenal,” said Orange County Superintendent of Schools Al Mijares. “I hope that other districts across the country will see the potential impacts and adopt this powerful system to deeply engage their students in the fun of learning.”

“The first season exceeded my wildest imagination,” said Gerald Solomon, Executive Director of the Samueli Foundation, which founded the League. “It was awesome to see young minds so engaged and having so much fun at the Finals tournament, and to hear from teachers and principals about how the League is increasing student engagement and enthusiasm for school. We are thrilled to take this opportunity to the rest of North America. What a fantastic way to connect play and learning, sports and education, to help kids grow, thrive, and be the best that they can be.”

Schools that are interested in participating in the next season or piloting the curriculum should visit the registration page at esportsfed.org or email info@esportsfed.org.

Note to media: if you’re attending upcoming conferences, be sure to see our leadership team presentations in Chicago at ISTE and in NY at the Games for Change Festival.

About the North America Scholastic Esports Federation
The North America Scholastic Esports Federation is working to ensure that ALL students possess the knowledge and skills needed to be society’s game changers: educated, productive, and empathetic individuals. NASEF is on a mission to provide opportunities for ALL students to use esports as a platform to acquire critical communication, collaboration, and problem-solving skills needed to thrive in work and in life. The Federation’s core values are intertwined through all aspects of education and play: learning, opportunity, community, diversity, and respect.

Under the Samueli Foundation’s leadership, the Federation is led by partners from the Orange County Department of Education, OC STEM Initiative, Connected Camps, Connected Learning Lab, UCI Esports, UCI Henry Samueli School of Engineering, and the UCI Bren School of Information & Computer Science.

Learn more at http://www.esportsfed.org. Members of the press can find videos, infographics, and leadership profiles in the online press room. Join online conversations on Twitter @NASEFgg for esports updates and @NASEFedu for our education news, on Facebook and Instagram, and see matches streamed live on our Twitch channel.

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Claire LaBeaux
@NASEFedu
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