First competitive tournament features 65 students from four local school districts
RIVERSIDE – Playing video games during summer vacation is a tradition for many teenagers. On July 12, students from four local school districts will get off the couch and team up to compete at the official launch of the Riverside County Esports League. The first tournament will take place from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Norco College (2001 3rd St., Norco), and will feature 65 middle and high school students competing on district and school teams.
The event is organized by the Riverside County Office of Education (RCOE) Educational Technology Services (ETS) with significant support from Norco College. The college is providing equipment (Nintendo Switch) and space in their new esports arena.
Students from Hemet, Jurupa, Perris Union High School, and Temecula Valley school districts will display their skills in the popular video game, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
District teams will battle each other through several rounds in winner’s and redemption brackets until only the best team is left standing. While participant sign-up is closed, admission is free for spectators who wish to attend and root for their school and district squads.
“Esports is a way to increase student engagement, school affiliation, and retention, while connecting interests with academics and technology,” said Heidi Baynes, Coordinator, Educational Technology Services for RCOE. “For some of our competitors, this is the first opportunity to participate on a team and interact with a coach which also enhances interpersonal and collaborative skills.”
Esports teaches leadership, communication, perseverance, and determination—the same skills gained from participation in other sports. Esports programs are also inclusive and open to all students. This gives students the opportunity to form connections in ways they might not have thought possible. Esports is closely connected to Game and Digital Media Design, but it also supports academic programs that focus on art, writing, marketing, graphic or website design, science, and strategy.
“I’m excited and thrilled for our first-ever esports competition,” commented Riverside County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Judy D. White. “The technology industry continues to evolve and our students must have strong computer science skills to be prepared for successful careers.”
The global esports market of digital games and interactive media revenue is valued at $128.8 billion, with an audience of 134 million, according to SuperData, and it is only predicted to grow. Universities across the United States are diving into this emerging market with scholarship programs and competitive teams.
This year, RCOE’s Educational Technology Services had a year of “firsts” including a programming competition in April and a Computer Science Community Summit held in May. ETS supports the districts of Riverside County in the implementation of technology initiatives and provides guidance for programs including online and blended learning, flipped classroom, mobile device deployment, and strategic planning.