Competitive video gaming, also known as eSports, has been growing in popularity at colleges around the country and now, two Buffalo public high schools have teams.
Bennett High School and International Prepatory will compete in the High School eSports League this year. Bennett animation and design teacher Jackie Albarella said she hopes it will help promote diversity and inclusion.
“It brings people together and when they’re working together, it’s like any other team sport. They’re all for each other,” said Albarella. “We’re trying to also teach them compassion and good sportsmanship and that’s what we’re infusing with video games. It’s a team sport that any student can get involved in.”
Albarella said in addition to those teamwork skills, participation in eSports can carry skills needed to advance in the science and technical fields
“The same kinds of skills you need for a STEM career are all embraced in eSports,” Albarella said. “You don’t have to be the biggest, you don’t have to be the fastest, you don’t have to be the tallest, and you can be a member of an eSports team.”
Bennett senior Jordan Graves serves as captain of his team which he said offers a way for students to connect and bond over their common love for video games
“When we come together it’s just all fun and games,” said Graves. “We might joke around a bit, but we don’t try to be mean to each other. All my teammates are pretty kind and they love video games, and that’s what brings us together.
Funding for the eSports programs come from the AT&T Aspire initiative. Bennett and I-Prep’s teams have garnered a lot of interest, with both programs already boasting dozens of students on their rosters.