L.I. group touts educational benefits of videogaming
By Matthew Hughs
The Suffolk County-based Long Island Gaming League is working to share the many career and educational opportunities available in the $150 billion videogaming industry.
LIGL founder Dennis Buchanan advocates for the inclusion of videogames in education while promoting competitions through esports. “The driving force behind the [gaming] industry is the youth,” Buchanan said, “but the beneficiaries of that are the big companies. . . Nobody is really letting the youth know of the opportunities that are coming their way.”
By working with youth in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math programs, Buchanan realized that he could engage with students more effectively with videogames. This prompted him and his LIGL team to develop their Understanding Esports curriculum.
“We developed an esports curriculum, and it’s about 23 different workshops,” he said, “and those workshops go in depth as far as the history of esports, how to produce an event, how to cast, how to market, how manage a team.”
Buchanan said he believes the exponential growth in the gaming industry will open many opportunities for current students, and learning about different sectors of the industry will help them decide their future goals, in or out of gaming.
Understanding Esports instructor and content creator Bruno Goncalves said, “Around the middle of our program, we introduce competitive gaming [esports] to the students. We actually let them create their own tournament where they choose what game they want to play, learn and plan all the elements that go into an event, and at the end of the program, we let them play in the tournament they planned.”
To allay the concerns that many parents harbor about gaming, LIGL also reaches out them. Through an event called “Mothers and Gamers,” LIGL recently provided them with a firsthand experience behind gaming controllers. “We had the children play their parents in a game of Rocket League, and they played as team,” Buchanan said. “It really surprised a lot of them because they never thought about playing the videogame with their child.”
Events like this are what Buchanan strives to produce, so more parents will come to accept their children’s passion. LIGL also used the event to educate participants about online security for their children.
To tie the curriculum and events together, LIGL also provides online video game-based content creation that encompass both the competitive and educational aspects of esports. Goncalves streams on twitch.tv and co-hosts the LIGL podcast, for which he interviews industry CEOs and collegiate esports coaches.
“There are colleges that are actually investing a lot on esports. . .” he said. “There is a path to college and to a future job within gaming, and we like to show that.”
Dozens of colleges have created full programs and degrees in videogaming, and many more are following suit with classes that that revolve around gaming. From art and animation to coding, content creation and many other positions, the gaming industry offers a diverse array of career opportunities.
It’s estimated that there were an 2.7 billion gamers worldwide as of 2020. As is the case with social media platforms, videogames offer the ability to connect with people worldwide while also allowing participants to engage in a common interest. In the U.S., the gaming industry is only expected to grow.
One person to hundreds of people are behind the creation of any one game, and there are thousands of different videogames around the world. Keeping this in mind, the LIGL team works to help others recognize how much there is to videogames.
“Our mission is to make sure that we can educate as many parents, students and casual gamers as much as possible about the real opportunities that are out there,” Buchanan said, “so they can do this as a casual passion, or they can pursue it in a career, whether it be being the best videogamer or a career working in the gaming industry or outside of it and using esports as a big networking opportunity.”
LIGL has hosted tournaments and community events for local gamers since early 2019. Tournaments generally feature the game Madden, based on the National Football League, with a prize pool of multiple hundreds of dollars, while community events bring in panels comprising NFL players and videogaming professors.
To hear LIGL’s latest podcast, click here: Listen Our Latest Episode
The group can be found on Facebook at /LIGamingLeague.
On Twitter: @LIGamingLeague.
On Instagram: @LIGamingLeague.