Covid-19 Esports Series: Meaningful ways to stay competitive

Joey Gawrysiak from Shenandoah University offers tips to keep students engaged and staying safe during the pandemic.
By: | July 6, 2020
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The Academic Esports Conference & Expo has been providing technology, academic and esports leaders and professionals with guidance to help navigate the Covid-19 pandemic impacting schools and colleges across the nation. We understand this is a very difficult and unforeseen time in the lives of all educators. Our magazines, District Administration and University Business, are keeping on top of all the developments and passing helpful information on to you here.

Dr. Joey Gawrysiak, Professor and Esports Director at Shenandoah University, has offered some tips that can keep the games going and keep students engaged:

  1. Find meaningful events for your teams to compete in. Competitions are good to keep your players happy, involved with each other, keep their skills sharp and as a distraction from social distancing. These competitions should be meaningful to maximize these aspects so that students take them more seriously and it feels like the same kinds of competitions they had during the school year. Competitions for the sake of competition is ok, but for maximum impact and benefit to the students, these must be meaningful matches.
  2. Find ways to get students involved beyond their competitive games. Beyond just playing on the same teams and with the same people in the same games they played with during the year, find other games that have broad appeal among different teams. These should be less serious games and don’t require the same amount of structure meaningful events would. Games such as Minecraft or Animal Crossing, for example, offer a less stressful environment and have broad appeal to keep more people in the program, and broader student population, engaged.
  3. Keep lines of communication open with students. Communication is key during this current climate. This could be to students as well as among students. Discord is a very valuable resource, and having appropriate servers for students to engage with faculty, coaches and each other is needed to ensure appropriate communication. Communication will help students stay engaged with each other and the larger program during isolation. It can also be used as a means of checking on students in a comfortable environment that gamers are used to.
  4. Ensure students feel supported and part of the team. Getting as many students involved as possible is key to making them feel supported. Seeing who has the capability and interest to compete as their varsity team, engage in more recreational ways or event who is just able to be involved beyond gaming is important to making sure students feel part of the program in the same way as they did while on campus and more physically involved. Not all students have the capability to compete on high-end computers or with reliable Internet, so seeing how they want to be involved still is very important.
  5. Give students ways to grow and be involved remotely. Beyond gaming, there are ample ways to keep students involved remotely: working on presentations, creating content online, working on special projects and just talking online to each other are some ways. These should be opportunities that have meaning and will serve the student in the long run. This is not busy work. The goal of education is to set up students to be successful beyond school, so these should lead to that goal. Figure out what students need to do to prepare themselves and provide opportunities for remote development since these are invaluable experiences that can be drawn upon for their future careers.

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