Lubbock ISD's eSports program provides unique platform for kids

Lubbock ISD's eSports program provides unique platform for kids

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

State lawmakers have their sights set on violence in the media, especially in regards to video games and the effects they can have on today's youth.

However, with the emergence of eSports across the nation, the industry is more popular than ever with teenagers.

James Lee, a member of Lubbock ISD's high school eSports team, said violence is the last thing on his mind while playing. 

"I believe the common misconception is that playing a violent video game makes you a violent person when in reality, most of these games are more focused on strategy. The violence is certainly part of it, but to play these games, you have to understand strategy, you have to understand communication, and at the end of the day, I've never actually played games with someone who is genuinely a violent person," Lee said.

The team's head coach, Brandon Grace, said critics of video games need to focus on the big picture.

"Whenever the kids get together and they're playing as a team, they have to communicate. They have to come up with strategies, they have to come up with critical thinking, they're having to do all these things on the fly, things they're going to have to do later in life anyways, but they're using it in a video game," Grace said.

He said playing video games in a team setting allows these kids to get out of their comfort zone and develop skills they would not have realized otherwise.

"Having eSports with these kids has truly allowed a lot of leaders to come out, and it has been really cool to see because a lot of my kids are very introverted. Being able to see them actually converse with each other, laugh, make these new friendships, and to really feel like they're part of something at school has been pretty awesome to see," Grace said.

For teenagers like James, playing on the eSports team is a platform that keeps him socially involved. 

"It's good for the kids that don't have anything else to do after school. It's an after-school program where you show up, sit down with your friends, you learn how to talk among each other, and I'm really good friends with everyone on the team. You don't have to worry about being rejected by anyone on the team. Everyone just gets together, we play some games and have some fun," Lee said.

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