NAECAD Interview: Chris Aviles, Garden State Esports

November 19, 2021

Chris Aviles is a teacher, esports coach, and the founder of Garden State Esports (@GSesportsorg on twitter). Garden State esports is “A non-profit built for students, run by teachers. Our mission is to create epic learning experiences by bringing scholastic esports to every New Jersey school for free!”

Why was it important to create Garden State esports?

Chris Aviles: Firstly, we were sent home because of covid, and unlike many other sports our programs were able to continue. As they continued we heard from the kids how much esports meant to them when everybody was on lockdown. They were able to connect with friends, and still have some structure and practice for games. Being connected with an adult they could talk to or vent to, that was not mom or dad seemed to be a recurring theme as well.”

To give those types of kids a home and help them connect over covid, because at the time we had no idea how long it was going to last, was awesome. I decided with my free time I would do everything I could to try and get every school in Jersey to enjoy the benefit of esports.”

The other side of this as you know is that esports is blowing up, both as a profession and industry, and there are a lot of for-profit companies that are looking to monetize and profit off students in the esports space. They don’t have the best interest of the kids in mind. So part of the Garden State Esports mission is to protect the kids.

Can you provide a brief overview of the curricula Garden State Esports provides?

Chris Aviles: There are two main curricula, one is called the Esports Personal & Performance Improvement Curriculum, or EPPIC for short.” Chris goes on to explain this part of Garden State esports curriculum is to teach kids that social and emotional wellness are essential principles to grasp.

A lot of us can understand how traditional sports help people grow as individuals. You learn teamwork, communication, sacrifice and goal setting, you learn what it’s like to be part of something greater than yourself. Included in EPPIC the children learn about digital safety, digital citizenship, health and wellness and diet and exercise. The curriculum tackles a lot of issues stakeholders had with esports.

Chris continues his points regarding the wellness enriched by traditional in school education compared to its enhanced effectiveness when shown alongside something the kids are interested in such as esports.

So the other curriculum is called CODEC, which stands for Career Oriented Disciplines in Esports Curriculum. CODEC is focused on the professional opportunities in the esports industry.

Chris states it covers extremely desirable skills in the industry such as content creation, shout casting, videographer, a graphic designer and a journalist by encouraging schools to create what he calls “The team behind the team”. Effectively a support network behind the camera, just like a real organization would have.

How does Garden State Esports work with school districts to develop esports opportunities?

Chris Aviles: The way Garden State Esports works is to take schools who are interested and take them every step of the way until they are in the competition. In Chris’ words There are so many questions about esports and so much confusion out there.

We are able to help them avoid those pitfalls and help them focus their energy on what matters, using esports as a platform to help all students grow.

What's next for Garden State esports?

Chris Aviles: The CODEC curriculum comes out next week, we are really excited about that. The university studies this year are very exciting, I would say the most exciting part is the fact that we will be able to have face to face events this year”. Chris goes on to explain one of the ideals of Garden State Esports was to enable the community to connect and grow.

Garden States Esports will be hosting several community events and competitions around the launch of its CODEC curriculum, including a graphic design and jersey design competition, as well as its Fall Season Finals at Rutgers University.

Most of all I am looking forward to getting those face to face events going again.

You can find more information on Garden States Esports here: https://gsesports.org/

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