SXSW Gaming Selects Two Leaders from the North America Scholastic Esports Federation as Featured Speakers to Discuss High School Esports in Education

press release Dec 06, 2018
SXSW Gaming

Constance Steinkuehler and Mark Deppe keynote conversation to illuminate how NASEF’s high school esports Clubs and classes make meaningful connections between play and learning

(Orange County, CA – December 5, 2018) – SXSW, well-known for its cutting-edge discussions and insightful programming across all disciplines, just announced the selection of two leaders from the North America Scholastic Esports Federation (NASEF) as Featured Speakers at the SXSW Gaming Festival.

An innovative spirit prevails throughout SXSW and can be seen throughout the thought-provoking conversations found within the festival’s programming lineup. The selection of NASEF leaders Constance Steinkuehler and Mark Deppe as key speakers at the Gaming Festival underscores the innovative role of NASEF in making esports a viable option for schools, not just as a fun pastime, but as a central part of high schoolers’ education.

At SXSW, Steinkuehler and Deppe will discuss how connecting teens’ vast esports interest with education will yield emotional and skill development to prepare them for our working world. Results of the first study of esports learning outcomes and career applications will be shared, and the successful UC Irvine collegiate team will be examined as a model for paid esports roles, drawing parallels to other industries.


Constance Steinkuehler is a Professor of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine, where she researches the cognitive, intellectual, and social aspects of esports and multiplayer online videogames. She is the founder and former President of the Higher Education Video Games Alliance, an academic organization of game-related programs in higher education. Steinkuehler currently serves on the advisory board for the UCI Esports Program and chairs the UCI Diversity and Inclusion in Esports Task Force. She is the Director of Research and Education for the North America Scholastic Esports Federation. She has also worked closely with the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Education on special reports related to videogames, and her work has been featured in Science, Wired, USA Today, New York Times, LA Times, ABC, CBS, CNN, NPR, BBC and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Mark Deppe is the Director of Esports at the University of California, Irvine and has led the effort to create the university’s award-winning esports program. He works closely with student leaders, administrators, faculty and industry partners to build a business plan that is both cost-neutral to the university and broadly approaches the world of esports. During his time at UCI, he has helped break six world records and led their League of Legends team to a 2018 Collegiate Championship. Deppe is the Commissioner of the North America Scholastic Esports Federation.

“It’s an honor to be recognized by SXSW Gaming and have our program held up as a model for others in the industry. Gamers across the country will celebrate with us as they hear about the improvement in grades, in attendance, in social awareness and behavior as a result of students being deeply connected to their learning through the esports opportunities,” said Steinkuehler.

“NASEF isn’t just about winning esports tournaments, it’s about developing the whole player. We’re teaching real-world skills and helping teens make connections between behaviors in gaming and life. We’re excited to show SXSW attendees how the fun and excitement around esports through clubs and state approved in-class curriculum make it the ideal vehicle for in-depth learning for high schoolers,” said Deppe.

In addition to the Gaming keynote, NASEF has also been selected from thousands of applicants to make a panel presentation at SXSW EDU. NASEF is tapping into the value of video games beyond play alone and offers the only fully credentialed, state-approved curriculum that intertwines esports and education. The panel will share firsthand experiences and research to demonstrate how students found a new passion for learning, and how the esports ecosystem can be leveraged in clubs or classes to teach foundational STEM, ELA and SEL skills.

Clubs and Competition

NASEF is wrapping up its competitive season which featured a season-long Overwatch tournament, as well as mini-tournaments in Hearthstone and Fortnite. For winter 2019, NASEF has selected Riot Games’ League of Legends for the season-long tournament. To compete in that event, Clubs must be active in NASEF and designate a team by January 16, 2019. “Extra Credit” mini-tournaments will be offered in Rocket League and Fortnite, as well as a fan favorite title to be selected by students.

Because many students are drawn to esports for the creative aspects, NASEF is also implementing several “Beyond the Game” creative challenges tied to careers, including designing a logo, shoutcasting a game, producing a highlights video, and more.

Participation in NASEF is free. High schools and community organizations for teens are encouraged to activate a NASEF Club and gain access to workshops, clinics, and Coaches Corner sessions, plus enter any combination of tournaments or creative challenges that they choose. All high school teams are encouraged to form a NASEF Club even if they belong to other leagues, so that they can access the variety of free educational resources for esports enthusiasts.

The competitive and educational aspects of NASEF will be discussed in-depth at all SXSW opportunities described above.


About the North America Scholastic Esports Federation 

The North America Scholastic Esports Federation is working to ensure that ALL students possess the knowledge and skills needed to be society’s game changers: educated, productive, and empathetic individuals. NASEF is on a mission to provide opportunities for ALL students to use esports as a platform to acquire critical communication, collaboration, and problem-solving skills needed to thrive in work and in life. The Federation’s core values are intertwined through all aspects of education and play: learning, opportunity, community, diversity, and respect. 

Under the Samueli Foundation’s leadership, the Federation is led by partners from the Orange County Department of Education, OC STEM Initiative, Connected Camps, Connected Learning Lab, UCI Esports, UCI Henry Samueli School of Engineering, and the UCI Bren School of Information & Computer Science. 

Learn more at the NASEF website. Members of the press can find videos, infographics, and leadership profiles in the online press room. Join online conversations on Twitter @NASEFgg for esports updates and @NASEFedu for our education news, on Facebook and Instagram, and see matches streamed live on our Twitch channel. 

Note: All product and company names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders.

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