Page 6 - THE Journal, March/April 2019
P. 6

Fountain Valley High School (CA), 2018 champions
From NASEF Community Day. Photos courtesy of Angeli Chi and Jessica Qi
Greater Engagement
For Michael Russell, a teacher at Complete High School Maize in Wichita, KS, the spark of inspiration came when he attended BlizzCon, an annual gaming convention hosted by Blizzard Entertainment (maker of the popular game Overwatch, among others).
At BlizzCon, he realized just how massive the esports industry is, with
job openings for game designers,
team marketers and executives, event coordinators, and even “shoutcasters” — the play-by-play and color commentators who describe a match for spectators.
“Esports isn’t just about playing video games,” Russell said. “You can be a storyboard writer or an animator. You
can work on the creativity side or the management side of the gaming industry. I thought: This would be cool to bring to our school.”
When he first pitched the idea of starting an esports team during a school staff meeting, “people looked at me like I was crazy,” he admitted. But he was able to convince the school’s administration that esports held great potential to engage students in learning by leveraging an activity they’re passionate about.
“Students are playing these games anyway. We’re trying to put some structure and learning purpose behind it,” he observed.
His first step was to secure computers with enough processing power to handle gaming, as the school had a one-to-
one mobile learning program with Chromebooks. So, Russell applied for grants and was able to purchase $15,000 worth of desktop gaming computers. Gaming computers typically have more powerful graphics cards than standard desktops, along with adequate RAM and mid-range to high-end CPUs.
“There is really no reason to overspend on the computers,” he said. “As long as they are future-proof for about five to
seven years, they will be great. I prefer to use desktop PCs, as laptops typically have smaller monitors and slower response times than desktops.”
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