What do the words “video” and “game” bring to mind? For many, it means mindless entertainment staring at a screen and fighting bad guys. In recent years however, more and more academic programs are seeing video games in a new light – particularly for teaching STEM skills (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). Contrary to the perception, today’s video games are interactive mediums that force gamers to solve problems, engage in critical thinking, calculate risk, conduct experiments, and work as a team.

Warner Pacific University is partnering with local middle school and high schools to bolster STEM skills through its new Esports program, just launched last year. WPU is hosting STEM Camps for youth throughout the spring and summer, inviting kids ages 11-17 to complete unique challenges in a virtual environment – all while having fun with their peers. The camps are also a great opportunity for WPU college students who are members of the Knights’ Esports team: they can earn extra income by serving as coaches and mentors to the younger kids.

Recently STEM Esports camp students took on the challenge of creating a virtual parade float together, using the game “Minecraft.” Sometimes called a “sandbox game”, Minecraft provides digital images of blocks, creatures and communities that allow the player to create entire worlds. Blocks can be broken, crafted, and reshaped to build fantastic creations – but each requires a test of logic and creativity. Starting this month, students will next work together on constructing a moving roller coaster!

WPU’s Esports program is a thriving sport on campus. Located on the first floor of the Library, the Esports lab is open to all students who would like to contribute to the team or just give it a try. Open gaming is open to all on Mondays and Wednesdays from 5-7pm and Thursdays from 1-2pm. A second location in the Tabor Grind Coffee Shop offers open hours on the first and third Mondays of the month from 12 to 1pm.

WPU welcomed Katie Hart as its first-ever Esports Coach last fall and she has quickly built a team of players that earned the Championship in its first year of inception. Her philosophy is that anyone can benefit from the technological literacy, memory and strategic thinking that Esports provides.

“There is not a ceiling or a floor for the skill level,” Coach Hart says. “If you want to show-up, play and meet people, you’re welcome to be part of our team. Everyone is welcome in the world of gaming!”

To learn more about WPU Esports visit here or reach out to WPU Admissions.