High school League of Legends clubs take many forms. Some clubs are more esports focused, others are built around socialising, some double down on sportsmanship, others on mechanics. And then there are those clubs that go all in and do a bit of everything. Auckland’s Kristin School run one such club, and it’s led by students.
An ‘Unlikely’ Solution
“It seemed pretty cool that a lot of schools like Kristin were running clubs, but when we had the initial idea it didn’t seem realistic,” Kate Li, student at Kristin School and one of the two club leaders, tells us. “It was more of a joke to start off with, but that changed when we needed a project for school.”
The ‘What are you on about bro?’ response is a common reaction to high school LoL clubs. For many students, it seems highly unlikely that something they enjoy in their spare time would be utilised by their school – a place mostly associated with work, not play. But that’s exactly the point.
“Since we both really like League and esports in general, [we thought] this could be a good opportunity to help other students,” says Kate. “I have quite a few friends who are into the game, so David [a fellow student] and I started putting the project together – and we quickly saw interest in the club.”
Through this logic, the two students have been able to create a space where students choose to come together after school and play games, all while learning important values through reflection.
“One of the important things for us was to make sure there was balance. We wanted to make sure [other students] had the academic side on point, as well as being able to help them with their skills in League. The club made sense; we felt we could help other students and make a difference.”
Clubs and the Curriculum
To get the club up and running, Kate and David tied its activities into the curriculum, planning the club as part of their CAS (Creativity, Activity and Service) component. “For our club, we’ve focused on creativity and service,” says Kate. “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.”
The two created a CAS project planning form, answering questions regarding logistics and the benefit to their fellow students, before taking it to their dean and principal. “They were fine with it, but obviously they had concerns about whether it would just be a gaming club where we just sit around and game for hours, which would not be very productive towards our academic life.”
But Kate and David were able to allay these concerns as, while it revolves around video games, the club looks at the bigger picture. “It’s not just about playing games, it’s about doing activities that will contribute to our whole lives. Our school is really supportive, our principal is really excited for us – and then there’s Ms. Moses, who is also super supportive of us as she comes to all our meetings and helps us out.”
Not a ‘Gaming Teacher’
A high school League of Legends club can’t be started without the guidance of a teacher and (despite not being a gamer herself) Jessica Moses, Humanities and Commerce teacher at Kristin, was willing to step up and help her students here. “I’d like to say [my involvement] is more than it actually is but Kate does a large amount of the work,” says Jessica. “I’ve got zero background in gaming, but I teach Kate and David in other subjects and they asked me to support them. I had no idea what this whole world entailed but I’ve actually found it quite interesting: there’s so much more to it than I thought there was.”
“One of my biggest concerns with the idea of gaming was that it’s such an individual thing and that people could become isolated doing it, but the idea of doing it as a club makes it a more social activity… the fact that they’re now seeking out tutoring shows that they want to succeed in all areas in their life. That motivation is quite encouraging.”
Making a Difference
Kristin’s club has now been running for two terms and has over 40 members, and it’s only gown in what it can achieve.
“We didn’t want to make the club purely a place for us to help people improve their play, we wanted to provide educational benefits, so we include things like sportsmanship and critical thinking,” Kate tells us.
“Every single session we start off with a question like: ‘How can psychology be applied to esports?’ or ‘How does gender and orientation affect someone playing esports?’. All the participants have to write 150 words or more about each question and it takes about half an hour of club time. Through this, members are really engaging with different parts of esports, it’s not just a place to come and play League, they actually have to think about how sportsmanship, how one’s personality and well-being, can influence and be affected by it. I think this is quite important.”
This focus on reflection is at the core of Kristin School’s club, helping expand on League of Legends’ own Summoner Code and the Honour System. “Although League promotes sportsmanship through the Honour System and things like that, no one really offers the chance to reflect on other problems in the world and how they could be solved through esports or how esports can enhance one’s strength and work on their weaknesses. Our club does this quite well. We also 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. It’s a good life skill and it helps people improve.”
League of Learning
Kristin also have a team in New Zealand’s High School League (HSL) tournament – which you can learn more about here – and the club helps students balance their studies with their esports training by providing tutoring sessions multiple times a week.
“For our High School League team, we offer tutoring sessions three times a week to ensure their academics are on track while they’re playing games,” says Kate. “We also offer League of Legends tutoring on an individual basis. 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.”
“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, even though they aren’t taught by me.”