Fueled by large prize purses, substantial youth involvement, and steep growth curves that indicate pervasive social presence for those under 25, competitive league gaming on titles such as League of Legends and Overwatch (i.e. “esports”) has captured public attention as the “new golf” of the tech startup community. And for every one player at the keyboard, there are dozens of spectators, organizers, analysts, and content creators that fuel this growing pastime. Early anecdotal evidence confirms this relationship between esports participation and engagement in STEM, but to date no empirical studies have been conducted to interrogate the relationship between esports and school engagement and interest. With the rise of esports on college campus and the increasing number of high school leagues across the US, understanding esports and its academic connections becomes more and more important.
The goal of the collegiate esports project is to conduct the first series of survey studies of their kind that document and map the connections between competitive gameplay as a collegiate sport and academic affiliation, retention, specialization and performance. Toward these ends, we are collecting carefully sampling and surveying students about esports participation and interest, on the one hand, and academic variables, on the other. Who is participating in esports and how? What is the relationship between participation in esports and broad academic interests and performance? These findings promise to better inform the conversation around collegiate and high school affiliated esports programs nationwide.