Saskatchewan Schools Esports Partnership

SKL Esports is happy to provide school and colligate esports programs at the division, school, or university level.

What does esports in a school setting look like?

  1. “Esports” has become as general of a term as “sports”, and so it is important to understand what esports in a school setting would look like, and how it changes in different contexts.
    • In a grade 5-8 setting the focus of competitive gaming would be to simply give students a chance to experience team-based play and practice. Learning how to work alongside peers towards a common goal is an important aspect of traditional sports that some students may not get to experience. Esports in a school setting would help more students have access to this type of opportunity. In this setting there would be lighter schedules, and less inter-provincial/inter-school play. This less demanding schedule would allow students to figure out where they see themselves within an esports program, and whether they see themselves pursuing it in the future, without the competitive pressure that can come with higher stakes tournaments and competitions. This age group would mainly feature practice and scrimmages.
    • In a grade 9-12 setting, the focus would expand to not only on how to work with peers, but also to focus on themselves as individuals. How can they improve, not just as players, but as teammates and people? This age group would have a more competitive environment, having interschool play and competition leading into events like tournaments or playoffs. This would be dependent on numbers of schools, competitors and which games are being played.
  2. All formal practices, scrimmages, and regular season games (if format dictates) would be hosted and played online. Playoffs/Tournaments will also be played online unless explicitly stated by SKL Esports and agreed upon in advance by the participating schools.

How does an esports program incorporate/connect to curricula?

  1. Esports can connect to the Broad Areas of Learning that are embedded into the Saskatchewan curriculum.
    • Lifelong Learner – Students who may not have the ability, means, or desire to participate in traditional athletics can still experience what it means to develop, practice, and work towards a goal alongside peers. This is a skill that can be introduced in esports and grown throughout their life in personal relationships, work environments, and other endeavors they may take. Students will also develop a strong disposition towards positive means of self-improvement, goal setting, and effective communication.
    • Sense of Self, Community, and Place – Through esports, students who may not have had the chance to find their group of people, can try to find that in an esports club/program. This is an additional opportunity for students who cannot or do not want to participate in traditional sports to grow with peers and find people with common interests in the gaming and esports space. Esports programs and clubs can help students learn more about themselves through interactions with others who they may not have normally had the chance to interact with. These clubs and programs can also offer students a safe space to participate in a passion/hobby that they may not feel it is as accepted in other settings. Within this safe space, they can feel more comfortable to open up and be themselves. Students will learn more about what it means to belong to a community that shares their passions and interests. Students will also strengthen their decision-making skills and their ability to critically evaluate themselves on how to improve as a player, teammate, and person.
    • Engaged Citizens – Students will have the chance to contribute to their unique community that will develop through an esports program/club. They will learn about what it takes to foster a positive atmosphere and how to effectively communicate with those around them. These programs will also have students who may not have normally participated within their school community to now have a stake in their school environment. This can change the way they see school and how they see themselves as a more assertive and engaged student, now being part of an extracurricular program. 
  2. Esports also has many Cross-Curricular Competencies that students can develop through participation.
    • Developing Thinking – Students heavily focus on decision making and thinking skill as they must quickly make decisions that could dictate the outcome of their games. After the fact, students will have to review and reflect on the decisions they made and think about alternatives that could have produced different outcomes. Learning, adapting, and growing in the way individuals make decisions is an important outcome of esports. Students will also practice their creative thinking skills, as they try to think of new strategies and ways to play/win.
    • Developing Identity and Interdependence – Students will have to learn and utilize effective communication with other members of their team to be able to have productive practices and detailed gameplans going into matches. Practicing good communication skills is a key piece of interdependence, but also a key component of esports. Students can also build relationships and friendships through these programs and learn more about themselves and what types of things they enjoy, thus further developing their identity.
    • Developing Literacies – One key literacy that can be developed through esports is digital literacy, as they will learn about what goes into setting up, organizing, and running online games and events. Through practicing, competing, and communicating via digital means, they will grow their effectiveness in this area for use in other contexts, such as online schooling, content creation, and electronic forms of communication. Students can also develop numerical literacy, as many of these games have changed quite often, changing the way that the game is played. Being able to read and understand these numerical and statistical changes can be a significant asset for any students who plan on working with numbers in the future. As students search for ways to optimize their play and become more efficient, they will have to look at the numbers within the game and make decisions based on the solutions they come up with.
    • Developing Social Responsibility – Students will have to work alongside other students and think of the way that they are interacting with their physical and social environments. Even if students are playing a single player game, they must still rely on and aid other members of their team/club. Students will need peers to practice with and therefore must ensure that practice is productive through fostering good relationships and effective communication.
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What types of games could be feasible in school esports?

There are many games that have successful esports scenes, but not all of them may be able to be adapted for school esports. This can be for many reasons, such as not age-appropriate content, difficult logistics, or even the terms and conditions of the game developers. Below, we will list games that we believe have potential for success within a school setting, and a brief description for each.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

This is a 1v1 or 2v2 fighting game from Nintendo. It features a roster of characters from many different game titles like Mario, Sonic, Pac-Man, etc. So, while at first glance it being a fighting game may be off-putting, it is extremely age appropriate, with no graphic violence.

The requirements for this game are a Nintendo Switch, as well as the purchase of the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate game. You would also need a TV or monitor to connect to the console. Students can play with Nintendo Switch Controllers, Nintendo Pro Controllers, or GameCube Controllers with the proper adapter. There is also DLC (Downloadable Content) for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, which unlocks new characters, as well as new stages to play on. DLC can potentially give some players a competitive advantage, as they would have access to characters that a player without the DLC does not.

Rocket League

This is a 3v3 goal objective game. It is very similar to soccer, where teams must put a ball into the opponent’s goal. But instead of controlling a person, the player controls a car that is equipped with rocket boosters. Players must maneuver their cars on a soccer style pitch to collide with the giant ball and bump it into the goal.

The requirements for this game are any modern console (Nintendo Switch, PS4/PS5, Xbox – per player) or on PC (per player) through the Epic Games Store. The base game is free to play on all platforms as well. It does have DLC, but the DLC is purely cosmetic and offers no competitive advantage.

League of Legends

This is a 5v5 online battle arena game where each team has the objective of destroying the opposing team’s base. Before each game, every player chooses one character from a roster of 140+ different characters. They then must coordinate as a team to take down different objectives to power up their characters enough to defeat enemy characters and take down more objectives, until they can ultimately take down the enemy base.

The requirements for this game are for each player to have a PC. This game is free to play but does feature microtransactions. New players will have a limited number of characters and would have to slowly unlock characters as they play. There are purchasable items, but outside of new characters, the items are purely cosmetic. Players can also log into their accounts on any PC and have access to all of their characters/items.

VALORANT

This is a 5v5 first person shooter game. Teams must win a total of 13 rounds to win the game. At the start of the game one team is on the “attack” side of the map, and one team is on the “defend” side. The team that is attacking must work their way into a site – this could be comparable to a goal area – and depending on the map there can be two or three areas. Once the attacking team works their way into the site, they must plant and activate a device. They must then defend the device until it activates, which wins them the round. The defending team must defend the sites and not let the opposing team plant the device. If they cannot do this, they can work to defuse the device after it has been planted. If they can eliminate all attacking members, defuse the bomb, or defend until the timer runs out, they win the round. After 12 rounds, teams switch sides.

The requirements and barriers for this game are almost the exact same as League of Legends, as they are made by the same developer. There is a roster of characters to play that players do not have full access to right away. Players can sign into their own account though and have access to anything they have unlocked.

Pokémon Unite

This game is similar to League of Legends, but has Pokémon as the playable characters, and instead of destroying objectives, it is closer to a king of the hill style type game where players must control areas on the map for as long as they can. The longer they control those areas, the more points they can gain. After a certain time limit, the team with the most points win

The requirements for this game are either a Nintendo Switch (per player) or a mobile device (both Android and IOS work). Similar to VALORANT and League of Legends, new players do not have access to all the characters and unlock them slowly over time. This game does have cross play capacity, so some players could be using a Nintendo Switch and some could be playing on mobile, and they could all play together.

Legends of Runeterra

This is a 1v1 online card game. Players build a unique deck of cards that have many different effects and powers attached to them. Players use their cards to try to reduce the opposing player’s “health” to zero. The first player to reduce the opponent’s health to zero, wins.

The requirements for this game are either a PC (per player) or a mobile device. This game is also cross-platform compatible, so players on mobile can play against players on PC. This game is free to play, but there are in-game purchases, such as different cards and cosmetic items. There are some premade decks available to new players, but players who pay for more cards can use alternative strategies that new players do not have access to. However, new cards can also be gained through regular play over time. Players can also log into their account on any PC and have access to any cards they have previously gained.

League of Legends: Wild Rift

For all intents and purposes, this is the same game as League of Legends, but for mobile instead of PC.

The requirement for this is a mobile device. It is a free to play game, with substantially less characters than the PC version, so the issue of character availability for new players is less drastic.

There are more games that could be able to be integrated into school esports programs, but these would be our top recommendations.

What about students that want to get involved in esports, but not necessarily as a player?

There are other roles besides playing for students who want to get involved. If the schools have the means, students could begin to learn about what it means to work on the production side of esports events. This can be in the form of running a stream, working towards broadcasting games and scrimmages, doing commentary on the games, or creating content for the school’s club/program. There are many behind-the-scenes opportunities within the esports scene, if that is something that the school has interest in making available. These aspects could be incorporated into SKL events, such as sharing student-created content on social media, students helping run the events, or working alongside SKL staff to learn the behind-the-scenes process on the job. Most esports teams also employ analysts and coaches that don’t necessarily compete, but help players to optimize their play, much in the way a coach operates in traditional sports settings.

What role would SKL Esports play in a school’s esports program/club?

  1. SKL Esports would facilitate competition and structure for the program/club. Depending on the staff supervision, more advice could be given as well to get the programs up and running. 
  2. SKL would establish contact/means of contact between schools for practice/scrimmages if they so desire. 
  3. SKL would plan a schedule of games, leading into playoffs, or organize a tournament for schools to participate in, depending on factors such as what game is being played, how many schools, etc. 
  4. SKL would build a ruleset that would be adopted by all participating schools to not only ensure a fair environment, but a positive one. 
  5. SKL would help advise schools and staff on anything else they may have issues with.
  6. SKL would be in charge of refereeing and facilitating formal playoff/tournament competition.

What role do the school and school staff have?

  1. Schools would provide an appointed staff member to be in charge of the club/program, as all extracurricular programs require a staff supervisor. This staff member would be the main liaison between the school and SKL. They would also be needed for supervision of students during club activities. 
  2. Schools would be in charge of providing/allocating all the equipment necessary for online competition for students, as well as any responsibility for any costs incurred for purchasing games/DLC if needed.
  3. Schools would be in charge of providing updated and finalized rosters to SKL prior to any events.
  4. Schools and individual students would be responsible for any travel for any in-person competitions that they may qualify for.
  5. Schools would be responsible for all of their own property and any damage that may be incurred from regular use for the esports club.

If you would like to get your school or division signed up for our Schools Esports program, please let us know!

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