Esports provides an excellent opportunity to teach SEL to athletes. By design, video games are engaging, which provides athletes with an environment that they can be motivated to learn in. (Dickey, 2005). Not only are emotions displayed within video games, they also evoke emotions within the player. With the ability to evoke emotions, players are able to practice handling their own emotions, along with understanding emotions of others (Gallup & Serianni, 2017). Beyond those attributes, gaming can be an inclusive place where students who may not have a home on any other type of team can find a place to belong. Video games provide diverse learners with the ability to be challenged while simultaneously practicing social and emotional skills that they may have trouble with. Diverse learners are able to potentially receive these positive aspects through gaming; entertainment, stress relief, escape/immersion, positive social experiences, achievement, creativity, story/role playing, and sensory and mental stimulation (Mazurek, Engelhardt, & Clark, 2015).
SEL interventions that address CASEL’s five core competencies increased students’ academic performance by 11 percentile points, compared to students who did not participate in SEL programs. Students participating in SEL programs also showed improved classroom behavior, increased ability to manage stress and depression, and better attitudes about themselves, others, and school.
SEL programming can have a positive impact up to 18 years later on academics, conduct problems, emotional distress, and drug use. There are statistically significant associations between SEL skills in kindergarten and key outcomes for young adults in later years. SEL decreased the likelihood of living in or being on a waiting list for public housing, receiving public assistance, having any involvement with police before adulthood, and ever spending time in a detention facility. (https://casel.org/impact/)
The Esports Personal and Performance Improvement Curriculum (EPPIC) was created based on feedback from esports coaches and has been designed to allow for anyone, regardless of their training or background, to be able to teach high quality SEL lessons. It incorporates SEL best practices, sports psychology, and wellness into the esports practice regimen. Students participate in lessons and activities that align with the social and emotional competencies developed by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). Requirements for the administration of the curriculum have been kept minimal in order to reduce costs and responsibilities for organizations looking to use the program.
EPPIC is a five unit program, with each unit consisting of multiple modules and each module consisting of multiple lessons. Lessons are designed to be administered at the start of each practice, typically when the team is working on turning on devices and logging in, and can last from 5-15 minutes. Lessons are designed to be an active experience and do not rely on didactic instruction. Although there is a set scope and sequence of lessons, they can also be delivered with a modular approach in order to address any pressing concern that may arise for a team. As part of the program, each team member will receive an digital journal in which they will record notes from each lesson and complete assignments between lessons.
After you use the Google Form to get your copy of the EPPIC Curriculum, let us help you integrate it into your esports program, classroom, or after school offering.
EPPIC can be enhanced with informational workshops for parents/guardians and school personnel to detail their role in supporting esports athletes. During these workshops parents/guardians learn about the history of esports, the current state of esports, and training and resources to assist in the support for their children. School personnel receive the same information as well as education on management of an esports team and how to administer the curriculum successfully. Let us know if you’d be interested in an EPPIC workshop for your stakeholders!
Coaching an Esports team without having ever played the game(s) may have seemed ridiculous at first, but after reviewing a pre-release copy of EPPIC, I knew I wanted in. Few social skills curricula manage to do what Dr. Strobel and his GSE team do here: Join an innovative, evidence-based framework for addressing social considerations for this specific group of athletes with an accessible, action-oriented approach to supporting them. The format is laid out simply, yet effectively, guiding even a novice coach through the scope and sequence of identified needs. Additionally, EPPIC allows the coach freedom to follow modules sequentially or individualize the sequence to best meet their own team’s demonstrated needs. EPPIC includes a pre-assessment that not only provides a baseline of skills targeted, but can also help the coach decide which skill areas to address first. If you are a mental health professional even considering entering into this exciting field of Esports competition and would like to visualize the way in which you may do it, start here.
-Gina Marie Restivo, PsyD, NCSP
Wellness Coordinator/School Psychologist and Esports Coach at Northern Valley Regional High School at Old Tappan (NVOT)
The Esports Personal and Performance Improvement Curriculum (EPPIC) provides a comprehensive teaching experience over a wide range of topics that are relevant to students taking part in esports activities. It is one of the first curriculums that packages the content in such a way that makes it accessible. Each unit is broken down into digestible chunks of information and each activity that builds upon each other. As an Exercise Physiologist, I am excited about the inclusion of the performance triad (sleep, nutrition, exercise) and mindfulness, as each of these aspects work in tandem with each other, helping an individual to be successful both in game and throughout their daily lives.
Esport Exercise Physiologist
Two Rivers Mindfulness Institute