STEM careers for students of color are far and few between, but if your child is into Esports, Kevin Fair, a black entrepreneur may have come up with multiple solutions to increase the number of people of color who are trying to pursue a career in STEM.
In his childhood, Kevin Fair would take apart his Nintendo console, troubleshoot issues, and put it back together again – an experience the black entrepreneur says changed his life trajectory. Fair got into coding and computer repair because of his passion for video games. In 2009, he founded I Play Games!, a Chicago-based business that teaches young people of color how to play video games. Using Esports to encourage students’ enthusiasm for STEM fields, schools and businesses like Fair’s aim to promote racial diversity in fields such as science, technology, engineering and math or STEM.
Another Entrepreneur and scholar by the name of Jihan Johnston, who founded a digital education company Beatbotics alongside her teenage son, Davon, who is a avid gamer as well, released a statement saying, “These kids were born with digital devices within their hands, and if you give them access, the world is theirs.” Johnston believes that parents who are encouraging their children to excel at playing and creating video games will not only help them gets jobs, but get them into college as well. By educating communities of color about how Esports can lead to careers, Johnston is reframing the conversation about video games. Johnston says, “I think our community does not know that this can lead to college.”
Now as we all know, a lot children are playing these video games now a days online. Fair recommends parents keep a “good watchful eye, “on their children’s online activity, “There’s a lot of trash out there,” Fair says. According to U.S. federal regulators, Epic Games, maker of Fortnite, will pay around $520 million to resolve complaints from parents involving children’s privacy and tricks that manipulated them into making purchases online.
The STEM diversity gap can’t be solved by video games alone. Online extremism, underrepresentation, and high equipment costs could reinforce stereotypes and exacerbate inequality. The Federal Reserve reported in 2021 that teen access to gaming consoles and computers varies by household income, with Black and Hispanic households earning about half as much as white households. Surveys indicate that developers of color are on the rise, but white men continue to dominate gaming development. The racial diversity of both STEM and Esports still needs to be much improved, Fair noted, but its on the rise. He also stated, “I can have a lot of kids that love playing FIFA. But that doesn’t mean that they’re going to desire to become engineers. You have to kind of try and show directly how what they’re doing, the activity that they want to do connects to something that they can make money in.”