Game development

Merced School District approves after-school esports program

The Dallas Fuel team takes on the Houston Outlaws in their Overwatch League game at Esports Arlington Stadium on Friday, July 9, 2021.

The Dallas Fuel team takes on the Houston Outlaws in their Overwatch League game at Esports Arlington Stadium on Friday, July 9, 2021.

Dallas Morning News File

Staying after school is about to get a whole lot more fun for youngsters in Merced.

The Merced City School Board on Tuesday unanimously approved an $82,000 contract with STEM Forged to establish an after-school esports program.

The program is said to be one of the first of its kind in any public school district in Merced County. STEM Forged is an IT, video game design/development, and esports company aimed at teaching students, according to its website.

For the uninitiated, esports is competitive video gaming, but it’s not your parents’ Atari 2600 game console.

Esports is a global phenomenon, attracting teams of all ages to enter tournaments, play games like Fortnite and League of Legends where winners can win thousands of dollars – and sometimes even college scholarships and prizes more. important.

Many have predicted future market growth for the industry to be in the billions of dollars.

Given the popularity of esports, district leaders have been pushing for a college esports program. Parents and students can expect a gradual rollout, with a full program expected by 2024.

“I thought it was a great idea,” said board member Shane Smith. “As a parent, I just wanted to be more assured that our children’s digital privacy was going to be preserved. I am delighted to support this contract.

The program will teach students computer programming, coding, game development, and insight into the esports industry. Additionally, it will also contain information on the college majors that students should pursue to enter a career in the industry.

The skills they learn will strengthen strategic thinking, planning, sportsmanship and teamwork, the district said. Students will eventually compete against other schools across the state in esports competitions.

“We have worked for years to find the best way to bring STEM education to children,” STEM Forged founder and CEO Grant Hathaway wrote to the MCSD board in a letter.

We’ve done everything from rockets to web design. What has always brought students to their “AHA” moment is the use of game design. “

Hathaway added, “STEM Forged empowers your students with real-world hard and soft skills through the most sought-after medium for their age range.”

According to a quote the company sent to the school district, STEM Forged will also provide professional-grade instructors, curriculum, technical support, one-on-one lessons, and software.

The package the district approved on Tuesday includes licensing and administrative functions, instruction and operations, and the organization and supervision of additional events.

This story was originally published January 12, 2022 2:37 p.m.