High school League of Legends clubs are having a profound impact on students across Australia and New Zealand.
Led by student Kate Li and supervised by teacher Jessica Moses, Kristin School’s League of Legends club has nearly 40 registered members, with about half of those joining regularly.
The club has proven to be hugely successful, providing a place for students to not only improve their League of Legends skills but to learn valuable lessons about sportsmanship and critical thinking.
“Every single session we start off with a question,” explains Kate. “Today’s question was, ‘How can psychology be applied to esports?’ Previous questions have been ‘How do gender and orientation affect someone playing esports?’ or ‘How does someone’s general well-being enhance performance?’”
“Before each session starts we have a slide that reiterates the consequences and what happens if you decide to cyberbully or enact any sort of inappropriate behaviour.”
Participants go on to write 150 words or more about each question, which takes about 30 minutes of club time. As Kate says, “Through this, members are really engaging with different parts of esports. It’s not just a place to come and play League; [students] actually have to think about how sportsmanship, how one’s personality and well-being, can influence and be affected by [playing the game].”
They even take time after a match to discuss their performance and behavior. “We offer fifteen minutes at the end for reflection, where members reflect on how they played that day and refer back to the questions at the start – which is really important because part of our school curriculum is about reflection,” Kate explains. “It’s a good life skill and it helps people improve.”
Tackling cyberbullying with compassion
The club takes online harassment seriously. Club members sign a code of conduct when they join. Kate explains how the club further enforces anti-bullying policies. “Before each session starts we have a slide that reiterates the consequences and what happens if you decide to cyberbully or enact any sort of inappropriate behaviour.”
The six aspects of sportsmanship, as taught by the club, include concepts like showing respect for teammates and opponents, taking responsibility for your own choices, and maintaining a positive attitude – all critical skills that can be used to combat and prevent online harassment.
Practicing these skills has given Kate and her teammates a better understanding of why players indulge in bullying behavior. “Most of the time the person doing the bullying isn’t aware that their actions are being perceived this way, so we talk to them about it and they change their behaviour,” she says. “But there are other instances where someone is just trying to have an argument, or just deliberately being mean to someone, and so we try and solve this situation professionally. We don’t try and anger them anymore, we use comforting words like, ‘Can you reflect on this?’ or ‘Is this correct?’”
The compassionate approach seems to be working. “We haven’t really had a major incident yet,” Kate says, “and hopefully we never do!”
The power of mentorship
Crucially, the Kristin School club has also given students the opportunity to flex their leadership and mentoring skills in a comfortable environment.
“We offer League of Legends tutoring on an individual basis,” Kate says. “We had one student who, at the start, was not that good at League but then I have a few friends who are Challenger rank and so I got them involved to start tutoring for free. They watch one of their games, and then we have a call to ensure everything is on topic and go from there. I’ve seen that person grow so much, and they’ve improved so much, and they’ve gained quite a bit of knowledge about the game. It’s quite rewarding to see that person grow through League.”
“It’s not just about playing games, it’s about doing activities that will contribute to our whole lives.”
Kate and other club members also provide academic tutoring. “For our high school League team – because we entered the New Zealand competition – we offer tutoring sessions three times a week to ensure their academics are on track while they’re playing games.”
Peer-to-peer learning in action
This active involvement in school activities – known as peer-to-peer learning – is a clever technique that will have lasting consequences for students involved in the clubs. Instead of relying on teachers to drive lessons, students are empowered to guide each other and learn together – a valuable life skill that can be difficult to teach.
None of this would be possible without Kate, who is shaping up to be a powerhouse organizer. As teacher and club supervisor Jessica Moses says, “Kate actually does a large amount of the work. I’ve got zero background in gaming but I teach Kate and [co-clubrunner David] in other subjects and they asked me to support them… All the extra things that Kate has gone on to do – the tutoring, the forms they have to fill out – is so well organised that I’ve been incredibly impressed.”
Kate has even ensured that the clubs directly serve the curriculum at Kristin School. “We do IB [International Baccalaureate] at our school,” she explains, “and part of that is CAS, which stands for Creativity, Activity, and Service. Basically, we try to do two things from each category that builds on our well-being in general, so two creative things, two things that involve activity and two things that involve service and then further from that we also have a CAS project that has to involve two of the disciplines. For our club, we’ve focused on creativity and service. The creative part comes from teaching and getting the mental cognitive thing working, and our service is to provide this platform, giving up our time to ensure people can get a better experience. It’s all part of the curriculum.”
“I’ve also learned how to persuade people, especially with the school, I had to persuade the school to let us have this club. Planning-wise, organisation skills are my forte, and I got to exercise [them].”
When she and her partner David originally pitched the idea to the school, they created a CAS project planning form, which included not only the logistics of the club but lengthy questions about the ultimate purpose and benefit of starting a high school League of Legends club. After that, they approached the IT department to ensure they understood that, as Kate puts it, “It’s not just about playing games, it’s about doing activities that will contribute to our whole lives.”
The lessons that Kate has learned running the club are guaranteed to follow her through the rest of her life. When asked what she’s gotten out of the clubs, she reflects on the varied skills she’s gained.
“Talking and interacting with different people outside of Kristin – like companies that we’ve sought sponsorship from or organisations such as HSL for the high school tournament – is quite important and I’ve learned a lot from talking to them and how to interact with people,” Kate says.
“I’ve also learned how to persuade people, especially with the school, I had to persuade the school to let us have this club. Planning-wise, organisation skills are my forte, and I got to exercise these – I love making forms, I love filling out forms – being able to type stuff out and make documents has been quite enjoyable.”
Want to learn more about high school League of Legends clubs?
Two Hat has partnered with League of Legends to promote sportsmanship and create teaching resources for teachers, parents, and students. Read our partnership announcement here, and don’t forget to download the teaching resource.