DeSoto Independent School District Launches Esports Program, Paving the Way for High-Tech Careers and Industry Partnerships

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people's backs in Esposure center
Photo credit DeSoto ISD

Whether capturing coins and other bounties or competing in a virtually simulated Mach race, gaming continues to evolve and become more immersive as one of the fastest-growing tech-based industries, amassing a global market size of more than $1.45 billion in 2022. Gaming has also been used as a training tool to develop hand-eye coordination for doctors while developing fine motor skills and as a simulation to replicate real-world experiences for military, engineers, and other career sectors. The skills development from gaming, whether in player or support roles, has been instrumental in achieving positive educational outcomes and high potential for embarking on careers with life-sustaining wages.

Coding, design, and integration have given way to virtual and augmented reality experiences making gaming a deeply immersive and interactive experience transitioning what was once considered a niche hobby to a career option with untapped potential and limitless possibilities which is why DeSoto Independent School District is leaping to introduce an esports gaming club that will evolve into a full-fledged pathway of study comprised of marketing, coding and computer science, broadcast and more.

The program is an effort to be responsive to the shifting trends of the career industry as it moves towards tech and artificial intelligence-based fields giving students the opportunity and advantage of early exposure and engagement to help them build strong foundations early.

“Admittedly, I was a parent who didn’t allow video games in my home,” said DeSoto ISD Superintendent of Schools Dr. Usamah Rodgers, a national college and career pathway design and development expert. “However, as an educator, and as someone who studies trends in career and industry to shape and inform the decisions we make in our schools regarding what and how scholars are learning, it is clear and apparent that gamification is the way of the future.”

 

The esports opportunity which is set to launch in January 2024 with more than 30 deSoto High School Scholars was made possible with the partnership and vision of former DeSoto West Middle School student and Esposure CEO Danny Martin and the financial contributions of the DeSoto Development Corporation via a $20,000 grant that supported equipment, furniture, and software for the campus gaming space.

“As an entity that is working to develop commerce and industry in DeSoto, what we are seeing is an increase in tech- and AI-based businesses,” said Matt Carlson, [title]. “To actively engage in developing future industries in DeSoto, we recognize that partnering with schools to connect scholars with industry experts and organizations that can create shadow and training opportunities while layering in other means of support, is how we do our part in developing the next generation of our workforce.”

Both Rodgers and Carlson have received a great deal of interest and positive feedback from community and industry leaders desiring to support the effort.

“If parents are on the fence about their kid exploring gaming in school, I encourage them to attend a gaming event with their kids and, while there, observe all the different types of professionals that contribute to the experience–marketing and content developers, event planners, lighting and audio-visual professionals,” said Marting of Esposure. “It’s so much more than kids sitting around gaming, especially when you consider the expertise and creativity that go into gaming design and development and social-emotional skills that emerge from gaming like leadership, communication, collaboration, creative and critical thinking, and problem-solving. The benefits and opportunities associated with gaming are endless.”

 

DeSoto ISD will partner with the DeSoto DDC and Esposure to host a ribbon-cutting ceremony at DeSoto High School at noon on January 4, 2024. The district extends invitations to industry partners interested in supporting scholarly access and engagement in esports gaming, computer science and coding and marketing, graphic design, and broadcast.

For more information, contact DeSoto Development Corporation Marking and Outreach Lead Rhonda Faulkner at RFaulkner@DeSotoTexas.gov.

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