Esports has become highly competitive in recent years, going from being a group of video game enthusiasts to giving teams worldwide recognition.
Now, some experts believe that esports has a chance to open the door to STEM careers, particularly among marginalized communities.
Kevin Fair, the Black founder of I Play Games!, spent much of his youth examining the details of his Nintendo console, often taking it apart and troubleshooting issues on his own. Using this knowledge, he created the company to help kids of color access a different side to video games.
According to a 2015 Pew Research study, Black teenagers are more likely to play video games than their white counterparts, creating a clear pathway for them to expand upon their interests and apply it to potential careers. However, Black workers still make up just 9% of STEM employees
Today, universities are seeing the opportunity to diversify the STEM industry and taking steps to ensure students from diverse backgrounds can use esports as a gateway to enter new careers.
For instance, Chicago’s DePaul University now offers an academic esports scholarship, with nine out of the 10 recipients being students of color.
According to Fair, students can obtain a whole slew of skills by participating in esports, such as experience with analytical thinking, coding, software engineering, IT and more. However, it isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, and different games can provide the chance to obtain a variety of skillsets.
“I can have a lot of kids that love playing FIFA. But that doesn’t mean that they’re going to desire to become engineers,” said Fair. “You have to kind of try and show directly how what they’re doing, the activity that they want to do connects to something that they can make money in.”