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Game Design, Esports, and Mental Health

Game Design has some overlap with esports, concerning social, emotional, and mental health in youth.

There are three main concepts that students learn through game design that matter in their esports experiences, too. This is a perfect way that you can prepare kids for success before they’re old enough to play on an esports team. These concepts are goal setting, building a community of acceptance, and collaboration.

Goal setting

Once they learn the basics of 3d modeling, 1-3rd grade students can learn goal-setting, and operate with a goal-oriented mindset, with a game design document lesson. The game design document is a creative and functional description of their proposed video game. The game design document is a commitment to how they will design the game - the "goal." As they begin building their games they will inevitably run into some bumps that will make them want to change the plan, but supportive instruction through these points will help teach them to keep a single goal in mind.

This translates directly to personal and team skill development in esports. Players will constantly be competing against themselves to become better. They'll have to learn the self-awareness necessary to set and achieve realistic goals.

Building a community of acceptance

Video game design requires imagination, and much like how reading one's

poetry to a group, or presenting a piece of art, it takes a level of vulnerability to do so. Harsh criticism from a peer could cause a student to stop creating things altogether; a socially and emotionally safe environment is necessary for building and sharing video games. So students in video game programs should be coached on how to review games, and the class should have exercises in presenting and reviewing work. This should be centrally focused on providing constructive and encouraging feedback.

Kids are EXTREMELY critical of video games. It's popular for players to harshly critique major game studios (namely because they can use it as an excuse for shortcomings in their own gameplay, or adopt streamers' views on games). It's really common for kids to take this bad habit into their game design courses and think it's "normal" to make really harsh critiques.

Teaching kids to encourage each other with their creations will translate to encouraging each other as teammates in esports. There's a similar level of vulnerability in playing esports - kids are sometimes too shy to give their all in the game because they might be judged on their performance. Teaching kids to encourage one another, and accept each other no matter what their skill level, disabilities, or backgrounds, will create a place where kids can play and grow at their best.


The community of acceptance is a prerequisite for collaboration because once students are comfortable with giving and receiving encouraging feedback, the next step is to have them work together. Some students will be better at certain aspects of what they're doing. This is a fantastic opportunity to teach compassionate leadership. Having young students work together to build simple video games will make them stick to the same goals, handle conflict, and learn to be effective teammates. This is the most direct connection with esports - students who learn to collaborate with each other to achieve a fixed goal in a creatively inclusive environment will be able to uplift, collaborate, and strategize with their future esports teammates.

These aren’t revolutionary ideas - but they’re important for more than video games. Our goal is to equip children with the skills that they need to be successful adults.

To learn more about how you can work with us to make impactful programs, go to

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