Changing the game: Esports come to middle school

Amy Brudin, director of educational technology at the Peabody School, was selected as a middle school scholastic fellow by the North America Scholastic Esports Federation. Photo by Zack Wajsgras Amy Brudin, director of educational technology at the Peabody School, was selected as a middle school scholastic fellow by the North America Scholastic Esports Federation. Photo by Zack Wajsgras

Amy Brudin has always been a gamer. She grew up playing games like Myst and Doom, back when computers were “way less cool than they are now.” And today, she loves playing games on her phone. 

So when Brudin, director of educational technology at the Peabody School, first learned about esports—the world of team-based competitive video gaming—she knew it was something she wanted to get her students involved in.

On October 31, she was selected as a middle school scholastic fellow by the North America Scholastic Esports Federation, which has developed its own curriculum for schools to connect gaming with STEM learning. As a fellow, Brudin will receive resources, instructional coaching, and community support from NASEF.

But esports is not just about playing games, says Brudin, who teaches fourth through eighth grade technology classes at Peabody. She is also focused on “creating an environment that is welcoming to all different kinds of people,” as well as educating students on the career opportunities within the gaming industry.

After graduating from UVA in 1994 with a master’s in education, as well as a bachelor’s degree in math, Brudin began teaching at Washington, D.C.’s all-female National Cathedral School, where she “got into girls’ education” and “what makes things good for girls.” 

With Peadbody’s esports program, Brudin hopes to get more young women interested in gaming, and, in turn, help change gaming culture for the better.

“Representation matters,” she says. “Seeing other girls playing games is how you get girls into games.”

Peabody’s esports program is still in the planning stages, Brudin says. As she figures out what games and lessons are appropriate for middle school, she wants to learn more about what’s happening at the high school level, specifically at Monticello High.

Over the summer, the Virginia High School League announced its pilot esports program in conjunction with Play VS for the 2019-2020 school year. More than 30 Virginia high schools, including Monticello, expressed interest in participating in the program, while Western Albemarle and Charlottesville High said they would consider joining in the spring if enough students were interested.

“Right now [esports] is such a new thing. It started out at the professional level, then it made its way down to college, and now it’s in high schools. The middle school part is something I don’t even know where it’s going yet,” says Brudin. “We’re really trying to figure out what’s going to work for our school.”

Nonetheless, Brudin envisions Peabody’s program offering an after-school esports club for all middle schoolers, as well as doing some classroom activities to introduce esports to students.

Brudin expects to have the club up and running next spring, and hopes her students will have opportunities to compete against other clubs. 

“But right now middle school clubs are few and far between, so we might have to wait for other groups to catch up,” she says. 

Correction December 4: Brudin grew up playing the game Myst, not Missed as originally reported. 

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Bob Jhonson

Thanks, Brielle for sharing this story of Amy Brudin. It inspires me how esports came in her life which changed the game. Here at LUSD, we also encourage students towards esports to learn better. I will share this story with the students. Thank you once again. Cheers!