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Game Your Way to a Career: Strategists

Welcome or welcome back to the Filament Games blog! Today, we’re continuing our focus on game-based learning and 21st-century skills – or as we like to call them, future-facing skills. Previously, we’ve discussed how game-based learning and esports participation can develop content creation skills, and how those skills can translate into creative careers! In this blog, we’ll discuss how game-based learning and esports participation can help players develop strategic skills, which opens a pipeline into various jobs including data analysts, mathematicians, and financial advisors.  

via Giphy

The Esports Ecosystem: What is a strategist? 

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, we have to shout out the North American Scholastic Esports Federation (NASEF), creators of the research-based Esports Ecosystem. As a quick review, the esports ecosystem includes four different career pathways, strategists, content creators, organizers, and entrepreneurs. You can check more details about each pathway in the diagram below. 

via NASEF

According to NASEF, strategists are members of an esports team who “use data to help the team perform successfully in-game.” These data-driven teammates contribute by scouting opponents, compiling statistics, and more. 

via NASEF

Through esports, strategists develop a talent for data collection, analysis, and interpretation, all of which help them develop an informed course of action – whether while gaming or working!

Video games, cognitive flexibility, and strategic thinking

A strategist isn’t solely defined by their ability to crunch numbers, however. A key part of strategic thinking is cognitive flexibility, which is defined by researchers at the Queen Mary University of London and University College London (UCL) as “a person’s ability to adapt and switch between tasks, and think about multiple ideas at a given time to solve problems.” In a study, scientists at UCL found that real-time strategy video games boosted participants’ ability to think quickly, pivot their thinking, and learn from previous failures

Many of the games used in K-12 esports programs are considered strategy games, from League of Legends to Overwatch. Games such as these are fast-paced with rapidly changing circumstances, therefore quick-thinking is a must to succeed. As they practice this form of thinking in-game with esports, students can then apply this cognitive flexibility to other areas of life.

Double learning opportunities with scholastic esports

At Filament Games, we’re excited about all the ways esports can help students build future-facing skills. If games such as Fortnite and League of Legends are already working to improve students in areas like strategic thinking, then using educational games in esports (also known as scholastic esport), is the way to bring meaningful 21st-century learning to new heights. In scholastic esports, students reap all of the benefits from commercial esports while also learning academic material from games themselves. 

We began our foray into scholastic esports with the 2021 FIRST Global RoboCo Challenge (FGRC21), where teams from 37 countries came together to build robots that efficiently completed tasks such as delivering a sandwich and pouring coffee. The challenge involved creative problem-solving and strategic runs through the different RoboCo levels to maximize the number of points received. See the mechanics column of the rubric below for specifics on how strategy factored into the FGRC21. You can also check out all of the details about the FGRC21 scoring system here.

via fgrc21.roboco.co

FGRC21 participants learned future-facing skills along with STEM and robotics concepts. Check out the first round of the challenge below to see creativity and strategic thinking in action in this first-of-its-kind scholastic esports event! 

Looking for a single-player game that focuses on strategic thinking? Check out Beats Empire, a turn-based educational strategy game about running a music studio in a big city!

Strategic thinkers and game-based learning improve the workplace

In their article for the Harvard Business Review, executives Martin Reeves and Georg Wittenburg assert that game-based learning cultivates better strategists in the workplace for several different reasons. Reeves and Wittenburg note the cost-effectiveness and scalability of video games as a tool for workplace training

They also point out that games provide real-time feedback with no real consequences. Since feedback about player choice is almost instantaneous, players can learn more quickly and practice strategic thinking at a faster pace. 

In addition, trying out a strategy by simulating it first mitigates the risks of jumping into a brand-new business strategy in real-life. In a strategy game, players can explore different avenues into a problem, and keep track of and reflect on their choices in a small amount of time. As Reeves and Wittenburg put it, “By unveiling what-ifs and routes-not-taken, well-developed games help managers reflect on their actions (and omissions). This way, even implicit choices and intermediate steps in executing a strategy become apparent and this helps in understanding the causalities that led to victory or defeat.” 

The authors continue on to describe how the interactive qualities of video games also nurture strategic thinking. Games require players “to analyze the environment, make judgment calls, execute decisions, and reflect on the consequences.” Immersive games capture a player’s attention and motivate them to keep trying out new approaches as they play their way toward success. 

All of these qualities are unique to video games, write Reeves and Wittenburg: “Well-produced strategy games can model environments tailored to a company’s circumstances and targeted skills. Based on the user’s actions, a game can quickly adapt to the learner’s individual skill level and learning curve — clear advantages vis-à-vis books, articles, or seminars.” Since games are active experiences rather than passive, employees get to learn through their own experiences, making the educational material and new skills more likely to stick. 

With educational games, K-12 students, esports participants, and employees alike can learn to think more strategically. It’s never too late to improve your cognitive flexibility, and it’s never been easier to access quality educational games that sharpen your 21st-century skills. Want to create a game for students or employees to strengthen their strategic thinking? Contact us today!

More on future-facing skills:

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