Minnesota high schools see rise in competitive video gaming

A teenager plays at a trade-show booth during the 'Intel Friday Night Game' organized by the Electronic Sports League in Munich, Germany. Germany's best electronic sports teams meet to play against each other. (Photo by Miguel Villagran/Getty Images)

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Competitive video gaming, known as e-sports, is gaining popularity at Minnesota high schools.

About 30 students at Washington Technology Magnet School in St. Paul are a part of the school's e-sports team, which began this year . More than 100 students tried out for the team, school officials said.

The sport requires skills such as reaction time, decision-making and time management, said Mula Lay, a Washington Technology senior.

"Soccer, football and tennis started as a game," Lay said. "As a sport gains popularity, clubs are formed, teams are formed and professional leagues are formed. That's what's happening with e-sports now."

Students practice every day as they prepare to compete against teams from other schools in tournaments. The Washington Technology team mostly plays a video game called "League of Legends."

"For my school to be recognizing that the game I love can be played competitively and is being played competitively is just indescribable," Lay said.

The chance to play video games competitively can be a way to get some students engaged in the rest of school, said Ross Mau, an e-sports coach at Washington Technology.

"We've got some kids out there that, you know, school's not their thing. They're not the best at school," Mau said. "Now there's a part of school that, 'Oh I'm good at, I'm getting recognized for this.'"

The Minnesota Department of Education doesn't recognize e-sports as an interscholastic or intramural activity, so it's a district-level pursuit.

Farmington Senior High School and the Academy for Sciences and Agriculture charter school in Vadnais Heights are two other Twin Cities-area schools that offer e-sports.