Online gaming class a big hit for local school

Online gaming class a big hit for local school
October 28
14:28 2020

Video games used to be just child’s play. Now they are big business not only for the developers, but also for the players. Recognizing their relevance in education, Winston-Salem Christian School has brought a STEM program to their school for their students to enhance their skills.

The program focuses on gaming concepts and Esports, which is an industry that has really taken off in the last decade. Jordan Leak has been a fan of gaming since he picked up his PlayStation 2 for the first time and is now playing competitively.  

“Esports is basically competitive gaming, and I teach a gaming concepts course,” he said. “I teach them basic motor skills of how to use the controller and how to play a game. We go step by step and I give them a walkthrough of everything and show them pretty much how to play the game and take care of yourself while you’re playing.”

Leak says he was approached by the school about the course and he was honored he was selected as their candidate. Leak says his passion for playing and teaching others about video games was a major factor in him being offered the position.

“I talked to Dr. Wolfe, our head of school, and he was like, ‘Hey, let’s see if we can make our own Esports team and see if we can bring it up and get kids into school just for playing video games’,” said Leak. “That’s kind of how we got started up at Winston-Salem Christian.”

To his surprise, many of the students in his class are new to the world of gaming. Leak says he enjoys introducing new players to the world of gaming, because they soak up all the information he has to offer.

“I have some veteran gamers and then I have kids that have never seen a video game in their life,” he said. “Honestly, I like the new people, because when I have veterans, they think they know too much, so it’s sometimes hard to teach them something new.”

Leak says he was drawn to video games because he viewed them as an outlet to the stresses of the world.  

“Other than playing basketball, video games were my second outlet,” he said. “If I was having a tough day or something, I would hop on the game and forget everything happened.”

Once Leak began playing competitively, he became a ranked player in the NBA 2K series. He then started entering tournaments and even won a few along the way. Leak says the environment in the tournaments are very different from playing on your couch at home.

“For competitive gaming, it’s not kid friendly and it’s a lot more adult language being said,” Leak said jokingly. “It’s very competitive, like playing chess on the street in New York City. It’s a lot of smack talk and way more strategy.”

Leak says he was unaware that colleges were offering scholarships for Esports when he graduated from high school in 2016.

“In 2016, gaming just started to get huge where they were giving away scholarships,” he said. “At the time, I didn’t know anything about it; I just thought I was just wasting my time just playing video games.

“I did some research and found out schools were giving away full ride scholarships for kids that play video games.”  

Leak stated he wants the kids in his program to earn as much scholarship money as possible, because he knows a lot of parents and students are aware there is money available for gaming.

“In my class, we start at middle school and I think that would be smart for others because there are people that play the game for a living, so you have to start young and practice every day like you would a sport,” Leak said about Esports and gaming. “Playing video games is no different.”

Beyond scholarships, there is big money involved with gaming. Leak says he recently saw a 16-year-old win a tournament and walk away with over $2 million in prize money. He hopes similar programs like this pop up at other high schools around the county so more kids have an opportunity to seize their chance at gaming success, whether academically or professionally.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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