How Esports Prepares Students for the Future
Esports is competitive video gaming played at a professional level. While playing video games has historically been viewed as a leisure activity, modern competitive gaming shares many similarities with traditional sports like football. International leagues, highly paid teams, fans, as well as lucrative sponsorships are all features of the esports (electronic sports) scene today. Esports is a great platform to help students develop skills for their future. From education to socialization, and career opportunities, the diverse benefits of esports make it something that schools need to consider for holistic student development and future preparedness.
What is esports?
With its origins in late 70s arcade gaming, esports is now predominantly PC based. Esports players are highly trained game playing athletes, often specializing in a specific video game title. These titles include video games that are popular with the game playing public, creating a huge fanbase for competitive esports. Media coverage, coaches, team identity and branding, as well as dedicated training facilities are all integral to the contemporary esports landscape.
Since the 80s, consoles and PCs have made video games available to children in their homes, 24/7. Due to the sedentary nature of gaming, as well as the questionable content and benefits of playing video games, many children have been chastised along the lines of, “You’re never going to get paid for sitting on the couch playing video games.”
Now might be a good time for parents and educators alike to adjust their preconceptions regarding video games. In this article we will discuss the role of esports in education and how esports can help to increase students’ academic performance, as well as encourage socialization and emotional well-being. Furthermore, esports can equip students with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) skills that are in ever increasing demand in the digital economy.
To better understand the role of esports in schools today, let’s first briefly cover its history and growth. While esports may seem like a recent arrival, it has actually been around for a while. The first Spacewar video game tournament was held at Stanford in 1972, and since then, esports has evolved into a global phenomenon.
Jumping forward to 1980, Atari’s National Space Invaders Championship attracted over 10,000 competitors, crowning Rebecca Ann Heineman (née William Salvador Heineman) as the first national video game champion. Early 1990s esports competitions included the 1990 Nintendo World Championships, where players competed at Super Mario Bros., Rad Racer, and Tetris. As the 90s progressed, increased accessibility to cheaper, more powerful computer hardware as well as the explosion of the internet provided platforms where gamers could compete. Esports classics including Counter-Strike (1999) originated during this fertile period in network gaming. Widespread availability of powerful PCs and fast internet access has helped the global popularity of esports to soar in recent decades, greatly contributing to the ongoing growth of the industry.
Growth of esports today
The global esports market is projected to grow from $1.45 billion in 2022 to $1.72 billion this year. Aside from its economic force, esports also plays an important role in connecting players, fans and the esports community worldwide. The dynamic esports viewing environment includes social media interactions, live chats and VR (virtual reality) experiences. The broadcast, competitive nature of esports encourages the development of digital literacy among professional players and fans alike. This in turn has created career opportunities within the burgeoning esports field, from content creators to commentators. On top of this, esports showcases technological innovations, influencing the wider digital landscape and bringing gaming and esports into mainstream culture.
Video games and trends come and go, but looking at this list of the most popular esports games by viewership, there are several titles that have endured the sands of time, adapting and innovating over the years. Esports games at the top of the roster include League of Legends, Counter-Strike, Valorant, and Dota 2.
Esports vs. traditional gaming
While many parents, educators and people in positions of responsibility may still frown upon gaming, the truth is that gaming tournaments and esports in general can actually enhance students’ academic performance.
Firstly, at-home gaming is what springs to mind for many non-gamers when they hear the word esports. Home gaming is the activity of playing video games in the comfort of your home, in contrast to public gaming in esports areas or arcades. While many esports competitors do compete from home, organized esports competitions are big events held in large arenas, with multiple large screens, audience and commentators. Tournaments and peer connections are a stand out feature of esports: students compete alongside team members both virtually and in person. Their teammates and competitors could be in the same classroom, or on the other side of the world.
Many educational institutions now recognize the benefits of esports in schools. High school and collegiate esports programs provide gaming education to students, who then represent their schools in competition. Beyond competition, esports can also be integrated into the wider curriculum. By incorporating gaming into STEM classes, subject specific skills, as well as teamwork and leadership skills can all be nurtured through esports in the school setting. In order to organize and host competitions for the ever increasing number of schools with esports teams, several gaming organizations have been established. The main high school and college esports gaming organizations are the High School Esports League (HSEL) and National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE).
Academic and personal development through esports
Esports aren’t easy. They stimulate students’ cognitive abilities, including critical thinking, problem solving, creativity and strategic planning. These are transferable skills required by learners, the future employees in the digital landscape of the 21st century. Team based esports require players to strategize and cooperate as a seamless unit, this can help students to develop teamwork and leadership skills, applicable in academic and professional settings. Communication is also a key part of successful esports campaigns, both during the heat of the game, and after the arena is closed. Sportsmanship is another skill that can only be learned through experience, and esports tournaments are a place where players quickly learn to celebrate success with humility and accept defeat with dignity.
Schools with esports programs also reap the rewards of social and emotional benefits. Esports creates a sense of community and belonging by helping individual students with a passion for gaming to connect with like-minded peers. Teenagers and college students alike benefit greatly from positive mentors and role models: esports facilitates these personal connections across various game titles and interests. Esports tournaments operate on a local and global scale, bringing together students from diverse backgrounds, countries and cultures. Unlike traditional track and field sports, esports players’ shared passion for gaming overcomes gender and age barriers as well as physical limitations.
Players and parents take note! Gaming in moderation, as part of a healthy lifestyle is the key to reaping the benefits we have discussed above. Excessive gaming and esports can negate most, if not all of the advantages, resulting in decreased academic performance, and even antisocial behavior.
Career opportunities in the booming esports industry
There are many esports career pathways available in the industry, from professional players to behind the scenes developers and streamers. First, let's look at educational pathways through esports. Esports tournaments offer significant scholarships and an increasing number of universities recruit students to participate on their esports teams. HSEL alone has distributed over $600,000 in scholarships, and hundreds of colleges and universities across America now offer esports scholarships to promising players. The time is now for aspiring student gamers to follow both their gaming and educational dreams.
Beyond college, esports helps students develop STEM skills that are highly sought after in today’s digital economy. By exploring STEM concepts, students holistically gain confidence with digital technology. In line with their interest in esports, pursuits such as keeping up to date with computers can stretch as far as learning about building computers, and even video game programming. STEM skills aside, esports educate students to think critically, approach problem solving creatively, and use information in innovative ways. Esports requires teamwork, collaboration and effective strategizing, all skills valued by employers worldwide. These soft skills and professional skills can open doors in many fields, from technology to catering.
Many student athletes aspire to play in the NFL, or MLB but in reality, few do. Similarly in esports, for many players, the ultimate goal is to compete professionally at Super Smash Brothers, or League of Legends. While not everyone will be the next Johan Sundstein, aka N0tail, there are many other rewarding career opportunities in the esports industry. Like traditional sports, esports needs coaches, team managers, as well as broadcasters and journalists, and streamers. Esports event organizers, hosts and marketing and video game development are also crucial roles in the swiftly growing industry.
The importance of the right equipment in esports
For amateur and professional gamers alike, access to specialized gaming PCs can mean the difference between a win and a loss. Regular PCs are designed to meet the needs of a wide range of general-purpose computing tasks. Perfectly suitable for everyday work tasks, most regular PCs feature integrated graphics, standard CPUs as well as sufficient RAM for multitasking. These regular PCs, however, may not suffice when it comes to the requirements of modern gaming.
Gaming PCs feature dedicated graphics cards to consistently render high quality graphics, and higher end CPUs to process the large scale, intricate environments of modern games. To ensure smooth, glitch free gameplay, gaming PCs feature larger amounts of RAM, as well as SSD storage to reduce loading time. During esports events, one small glitch, lag in gameplay, or faulty controller can result in competition loss, at no fault of the player. Reputation and confidence aside, cash prizes can also be at stake in the higher echelons of competitive esports. Having the right equipment is crucial to a successful esports program.
Many schools simply don’t have the budget to splash out on gaming PCs, monitors, keyboards and controllers. Starting from the ground up, budget conscious esports programs may choose to opt for refurbished gaming PCs. These are pre-owned PCs that have been professionally refurbished, offering gaming performance at a fraction of the cost of new hardware, while reducing electronic waste.
Acer’s gaming devices
Acer, the official sponsor of the Intel Extreme Masters esports tournament, the longest running global pro gaming tour in the world, currently has two gaming product lines for esports: Acer Nitro and Acer Predator. These lines both offer gaming laptops as well as monitors, desktops and peripherals. The Nitro series offers high performance at a reasonable price, while Predator offers premium technology designed to provide exceptional gaming experiences.
First launched in 2017, Acer Nitro is a series of budget gaming computers for gamers who demand high-performance machines at an approachable price point. The Nitro series includes desktops, laptops, monitors, and other accessories and competes with other midrange computers. Acer also has a wide range of gaming monitors and a desktop machine under the Nitro brand.
Nitro devices are priced in the mainstream range and Predator devices are in the premium range. Acer Nitro provides a decent balance between price and performance, while Acer Predator offers pro-level gaming performance and superior technology. Curious which of these lines suits your school’s gaming needs? Find out more in this deep dive into the differences between the Nitro and Predator ranges.
Today’s booming esports industry has evolved into a multi-billion dollar market, forecast for further growth. Much more than just playing games, esports has an important role to play in preparing students for their future. Students have a unique opportunity to get involved with esports, which can benefit their cognitive abilities, and foster teamwork and leadership skills. What’s more, the borderless, international esports community connects players regardless of location, bringing together students from diverse backgrounds, and overcoming barriers of gender, race and age.
Esports offers various career pathways, including significant scholarships and chances to represent colleges in esports events. STEM skills that esports helps to develop are crucial in the increasingly digital economy. Esports are also a key part of holistic student development as well as future preparedness. Gaming really can open doors to a range of potential careers.
To ensure optimal performance, access to specialized gaming PCs is crucial for esports players of all levels. From refurbished gaming PCs to laptops in the Acer Nitro and Predator range, the right gaming PC provides students with a solid foundation to hone their esports skills on.
Mastering AI Tools: Leveraging Copilot for Modern Education
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is changing the ways we live and work, but is it also impacting the way we learn? Coding lessons via Minecraft Education, and other classroom-based technology, AI and education go hand-in-hand to enhance the learning experience for students. Chatbots like ChatGPT have revolutionized the way we communicate and acquire data. From verse in the style of Shakespeare to dating advice and answering test questions, users can receive synthesized online data from various sources by entering a few simple prompts. With AI in education, teachers can streamline their lesson plans and create more interesting and appealing class content. Likewise, young learners can utilize AI to enhance the learning process and gain a better understanding of complex topics.
The evolution of chatbots in education
From business to education, the possibilities of AI functions are endless. AI-powered chatbots like ChatGPT enable natural communication between humans and machines through a series of learning algorithms that are trained to give lifelike responses. Chatbots are pre-trained on vast amounts of data about various topics so they can accurately respond to most questions or prompts. Although these tools are relatively new, they are securing a place in our regular daily lives.
The new Copilot search engine has an integrated AI-powered Copilot Chat function, helping users achieve more accurate, insightful, and interactive search results. Using GPT-4, a large multimodal model from OpenAI, Copilot lets users choose their preferred conversation style depending on their needs. GPT-4 displays human-like performance on professional and academic topics, making it a powerful artificial intelligence application in education. For example, GPT-4 passed a simulated bar exam and achieved a score within the top 10% of test takers. By incorporating GPT-4, Copilot is a powerful and thought-provoking AI assistant with unlimited classroom applications.
However, there is a debate regarding academic integrity and AI tools, particularly chatbots, that can produce topic-specific assignments and solve complex problems within just a few seconds. Some schools have even blocked the use of AI technology altogether. AI tools should not replace academic learning but act as an assistant that can help brainstorm ideas. Information produced by AI tools can provide a reference for academic aid, but users should be wary of completely relying on its accuracy. When used as an assistant, AI tools like Copilot can help with studying, writing, and research, just like websites and online tools already do. It cannot replace human thinking and creativity but can give us ideas for expansion.
The potential of Copilot in education
Copilot is a powerful learning assistant designed to support students and prepare them for their future careers. Embracing AI gives students a head start as many businesses are now adopting AI tools such as Microsoft 365 with Copilot.
Rather than encouraging reliance, Copilot is an assistant that cultivates critical thinking. By learning how to incorporate Copilot into classroom education and teaching, educators can embrace AI technology to enhance the learning experience. Of course, chatbot users should verify AI-generated content to ensure the accuracy and relevance of data. Furthermore, students should cite Copilot as a source if they use it as an assistant for academic work.
How to use Copilot in the classroom
Microsoft’s Copilot is one of the many examples of artificial intelligence in education. It can be used as a tutor or persona to take on specific roles such as a debate partner or a school professor. This helps students expand upon and consider their ideas from various perspectives, enhancing critical thinking skills. Furthermore, it can generate quizzes, exams, and lesson plans to assist students and teachers with class preparation. It also helps teachers create modern and culturally relevant materials to keep students engaged while learning.
The tool can also assist non-English speakers with their language learning. As many students speak other languages outside of the classroom, a learning tool to support conversation and writing skills is invaluable. Moreover, Copilot also acts as a translator, helping non-English speakers improve their understanding of class content, including tricky grammar rules and vocabulary.
Expanding the role of Copilot in teaching and learning
Microsoft’s Copilot is a versatile tool that boosts productivity and efficiency for teachers and students. It can be used to create educational materials like class notes, summaries, and study guides, reducing the workload for teachers while maintaining access to consistent and high-quality resources. Copilot can also help faculty members produce fascinating and academically stimulating debate prompts, questions, and debate topics, forming online or forum discussion topics designed to enhance the critical thinking ability of students.
Copilot provides personalized feedback to students on assignments, projects, and exams. The tool’s natural language processing capabilities let students receive lifelike feedback that can help further advance their studies. Moreover, Copilot facilitates peer learning by producing questions or scenarios for students to elaborate on and discuss. This promotes teamwork and joint problem-solving, helping to prepare students for the working world.
Copilot and modern educational tools
Copilot is an AI-powered chat service created for organizations and schools. It encourages students and workers to be more creative and efficient in their tasks and allows them to quickly generate content, summarize documents, and learn new skills. It can even teach coding and other complex topics. Most importantly, Copilot ensures data security and will not leak user, school, or business data outside the organization. As information is not saved, security-conscious companies can rest assured knowing that Copilot advocates advanced data protection. Copilot can create graphs, charts, and images, along with data specifications and pricing.
Acer’s range of TravelMate laptops supports Windows 11 Pro, which boosts efficiency. Data security is a huge concern for us all and is taken seriously by Microsoft and Acer. Both Copilot and Acer TravelMate laptops promote data security with features like data encryption and biometric authentication.
Furthermore, TravelMate laptops are equipped with powerful processors and HD webcams to ensure video calls and online classes go smoothly. Copilot integrates with TravelMate laptops to support educational institutions as a learning tool to help students with complex topics, generate content, and analyze data. They are also lightweight and durable so students can use them easily on the go.
With tools like Copilot, AI for educators is here to stay. AI has earned its place in modern education and is a useful tool for productivity and efficiency. By creating personalized lesson plans, materials, and quizzes, teachers can focus less on ad-hoc tasks and more on providing a quality learning experience for students. Technology can help teachers remain current and modern while delivering classes in ways that are relevant for today’s young learners. When used correctly, AI is to be embraced and not feared, and teachers can embrace and master these tools to create a more dynamic and effective learning experience. Moreover, with consistent access to quality data resources, students can use AI tools to enhance their learning experience. Acer’s range of TravelMate laptops supports teachers and students in their AI journeys, offering fast processors and various features to boost productivity. The future of AI education is now, and the best is yet to come.
10 Best Destination Dupes for Digital Nomads
Have you heard of the term “destination dupe”? One of the hottest buzzwords in travel currently, the dupe trend has become a huge hit on TikTok. But what exactly is a “destination dupe”?
For the uninitiated, “dupe” stands for “duplicate,” and the idea is to provide an alternative travel option for a specific city. Essentially, this trend assumes that instead of going to city A, you can have a similar experience in city B with fewer crowds and a lower budget. While no two places are the same, two different locations can provide similar attractions like beaches, a growing tech scene, or abundant cultural amenities.
In this article, we’ll present ten different “destination dupes” and explain why the alternative travel option could be a better choice for digital nomads.
10 Best Destination Dupes
1. Instead of Bali, Indonesia, try Da Nang, Vietnam
It’s undeniable that Bali is a more popular destination compared to Da Nang. The lure of the place is even captured in the novel and movie Eat Pray Love, where a woman travels to Bali to find some sort of spiritual peace. Although that image of Bali as a holy, pristine place is still alive and well today, the throngs of tourists may obstruct your view of the most important sites.
If you want a similar experience to Bali that’s a bit more off the beaten path, try Da Nang. Da Nang is a seaside town with a vibrant cultural history, providing all of the beachside relaxation and cultural exploration that Bali is known for. In addition, its growing digital nomad community means you’ll be able to strike a balance between feeling at home and integrating with the local community.
2. Instead of Lisbon, Portugal, try Tbilisi, Georgia
The Portuguese capital has become a digital nomad hub of sorts in recent years. Sometimes compared to San Francisco with its mountainous urban landscape and iconic cable car system, Lisbon’s charms have attracted many remote workers to sojourn in the city.
Lisbon has recently suffered from the consequences of its own success, however: with a housing crisis that led the government to discontinue its Golden Visa program, digital nomads are looking for a similar alternative.
Tbilisi, Georgia might just be the cure. Tbilisi is rich in quaintly beautiful architecture and authentic cultural experiences while being easy on the wallet. With its digital nomad community growing, Tbilisi should be high on any digital nomad’s list.
3. Instead of Berlin, Germany, try Krakow, Poland
Berlin is famous (some might say infamous) for its eclectic cultural scene and nightlife. Formerly the city split in half by the Berlin Wall, it’s now turned into a playground for techno lovers and indie artists.
Krakow, Poland offers a similarly lively cultural scene that rivals that of Berlin. With attractions like the world-class Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow and the Wawel Cathedral, Krakow offers a wide variety of cultural amenities to take advantage of as a digital nomad. If you like Berlin but want something a little more unique, Krakow could be for you.
4. Instead of Chiang Mai, Thailand, try Medellín, Colombia
Thailand is a common choice for both tourists and digital nomads alike, and it’s not hard to see why: Thailand is where exquisite temples meet modern shopping malls and delicious street food. Chiang Mai in particular is a thriving digital nomad hub, with a wide selection of cafés and leisure spots to meet digital workers’ needs.
If you want a similar experience but would rather brush up on your Spanish, Medellín might be the place for you. It boasts a low cost of living and a sizable community of digital nomads who are attracted by the pleasant climate in the “City of Eternal Spring.”
5. Instead of Barcelona, Spain, try Valencia, Spain
Barcelona is an iconic city filled with awe-inspiring sights, including the in-progress Sagrada Família, the whimsical Park Güell and much more. It seems that everywhere you turn in the city, you happen upon another Gaudí masterpiece blended seamlessly into the urban environment around it.
Though the Catalonian capital has a lot going for it, it’s also quite an expensive city. For digital nomads who are drawn to Spain but aren’t set on a specific place, Valencia could be a great choice. Also situated along the Mediterranean coast, Valencia offers a similar beach feel with less hustle and bustle and a lower cost of living. As a plus, Valencia is also considered the birthplace of paella, arguably Spain’s most famous dish.
6. Instead of Austin, Texas, try Guadalajara, Mexico
Austin has been one of the fastest-growing cities in the US for several years now. As many tech workers have moved out of California, many of them landed in Texas and specifically Austin. Nowadays, Austin is a city with a solid tech scene that attracts people due to its abundant recreation opportunities, vibrant music scene, and pure weirdness.
That being said, Austin is now experiencing some growing pains, among them a highly rising cost of living and congested roadways. If you want the tech scene and cultural diversity of Austin without some of its drawbacks, Guadalajara, Mexico is a great option. In Guadalajara, you can enjoy cultural amenities like the Guadalajara International Film Festival and the Guadalajara International Book Fair, one of the largest book exhibitions in the world, at an affordable cost of living.
7. Instead of Tokyo, Japan, try Taipei, Taiwan
Tokyo has long attracted visitors from abroad due to its captivating mixture of traditional and modern. The city impresses visitors with its world-class public transportation system, impeccably clean streets, and delicious street food.
Tokyo is an expensive city, though, and also a crowded one, especially with the rise in tourism in Japan prompted by a weak yen. For those looking for a mix of modern and traditional in an urban setting, Taipei is a great alternative travel option. Its public transportation network rivals that of the larger Tokyo, and its street food options are cheaper and more diverse. All in all, digital nomads can have a similar experience in Taipei for a much lower cost of living.
8. Instead of Dubai, UAE, try Baku, Azerbaijan
Dubai is a city of opulence situated in the middle of the desert. Its Burj Khalifa currently holds the title of tallest building in the world, a representation of Dubai’s ambition and drive. That spirit has certainly been attractive to foreign residents, with a whopping 83% of Dubai’s population born overseas. If you are fascinated by the idea of Dubai but want to try something a bit more authentic, Baku, Azerbaijan may just be the right place for you, especially if you’re an architecture buff.
At the crossroads of East and West, Azerbaijan is a patchwork of the different cultural forces that have passed through the so-called City of Winds. In addition to ancient constructions like the Maiden’s Tower, a mish-mash of modern building styles are waiting to be discovered. Azerbaijan’s second oil boom in 2006 led to a sudden architectural boom that has gifted Baku with a wide variety of architectural wonders, ranging from the Art Nouveau Nizami Museum of Azerbaijani Literature to the Stalinist Government House.
9. Instead of Silicon Valley, USA, try Bangalore, India
Silicon Valley has long been Northern California’s success story. The region is home to a synergy of top-notch educational institutions, motivated professionals and venture capital matched nowhere else in the world. For those who want to join a startup, the Bay Area is one of the best places in the world.
That doesn’t mean that it’s the only place, however. There are plenty of other places that offer great infrastructure for startups while beating the Bay Area on items like cost of living. One of those places is Bangalore, India. Bangalore is India’s tech hub, a place with a high concentration of educated professionals looking to start new businesses. Its cost of living is much lower than that of the Bay Area while still offering a wealth of opportunities, making it a great choice for a digital nomad.
10. Instead of Sydney, Australia, try Wellington, New Zealand
Besides its iconic landmarks such as Bondi Beach and the Harbour Bridge, Sydney is known for its strong coffee culture. Sydney certainly has a lot of positives to attract visitors, but as with many of the locations on this list, many visitors can also mean high prices and large crowds.
For an antipodal city with a similar waterfront vibe and a more relaxed pace of life, why not check out Wellington, the capital of New Zealand? With around half a million residents in the greater Wellington area, the city is large enough to support a wide range of activities and attractions without being overwhelming. Its restaurant and café game also punches way above its weight. For digital nomads searching for a relaxed lifestyle down under, Wellington is a great “dupe” to Sydney.
All in all, no one destination can ever truly compare to another. Each place is unique, shaped by its distinct geography, culture, and history. However, as a digital nomad, it’s always worth the effort to consider new destinations that may be less well known but offer similar advantages. For that reason, “dupes” serve their purpose.
10 Long Games to Binge Over Winter Break 2023
As winter sets in, hunker down, lose yourself in these long games, and immerse yourself in new worlds. These deep, complex titles demand days of marathon gaming sessions where your tenacity pays off.
Let your imagination run wild in sweeping worlds with vivid characters and intricate narratives. These 10 epic PC games give over 100 hours of gameplay—perfect for whiling away frosty days.
1. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt casts you as Geralt, a monster-hunting Witcher roaming an expansive open world brimming with secrets and adventures. With its deep RPG systems and morally ambiguous choices, this 100+ hour epic immerses you in dark fantasy brought to life.
Around every corner, something awaits to reward the curious—combing through this rich, vibrant realm always pays off. Fans of the Netflix show can now experience the monster-hunting action and gritty storytelling firsthand.
Rushing the main story takes 60-80 hours, but you can pour 200+ hours into side quests and wander the stunning landscapes before tackling the DLC expansions. Hearts of Stone, sends Geralt on adventures in the existing No Man's Land area. Then, Blood and Wine introduces a new Toussaint region that doubles the first expansion's length.
Estimated playing time for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
* Main story: About 70 hours.
* 100% complete: Over 200 hours.
2. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Delve into Skyrim's snowy peaks and verdant valleys, a Norse land where every choice you make shapes your journey. As the Dragonborn, you're thrust into a sprawling narrative where dragons return to a fractured world. With its nonlinear open world and endless quests, this genre-defining RPG will keep you cozy through the Winter.
Roam freely in this colossal world, where the thrill of exploration is unparalleled. Fight towering dragons, uncover secrets tucked away in dark dungeons, or wander the countryside as you see fit. Your actions carve your path from a heroic dragon-slayer to a crafty thief.
Skyrim's rich lore and detailed environments make every playthrough unique. Spend hours perfecting your skills, aligning with factions, and impacting the world's balance. Whether you're battling dragons or simply absorbing the lore of the game’s universe, Skyrim's world is yours to conquer.
While the main quest takes around 30 hours, completing all side content can push playtime over 200 hours. And with mods, the possibilities are endless. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim's Radiant system continues to generate random quests, so it's unending.
Three major DLC game expansions extend your adventure:
* Dawnguard plunges you into a feud between vampires (Volkihar Clan) and elite vampire hunters (Dawnguard).
* Hearthfire lets you design and build a customizable home to reside in.
* Dragonborn allows you to tame and ride dragons in Skyrim.
Skyrim’s rich lore and detailed environments make every playthrough unique. With infinite quests and entire new lands to uncover, lose yourself for hundreds of hours and still discover new legends over the winter break.
Estimated playing time for Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
* Main story: About 34½ hours.
* 100% complete: Around 231 hours.
3. Baldur's Gate 3
Baldur's Gate 3 brings the revered RPG series into the modern era with a visually stunning return to the Forgotten Realms. Create unique heroes to lead through sinister mysteries and dark prophecies across intricately modeled fantasy cities and dungeons.
You control a motley crew with deep character customization, uncovering mind-flayer conspiracies in a richly detailed medieval world. Every decision influences the quintessential D&D realm as you fulfill heroic dreams. Baldur's Gate 3 earned an outstanding 96 Metascore, pushing player freedom to the limit.
Focusing on just the main quest provides a hefty 44 hours of playtime. But completists can pour over 100 hours into side adventures across taverns, temples, and more before uncovering all secrets. Whether you're a series veteran or newcomer, Baldur's Gate 3's moral choices and engaging characters hook you in for a lengthy journey.
Estimated playing time for Baldur’s Gate 3
* Main story: About 44 hours.
* 100% complete: Around 100 hours.
4. Red Dead Redemption 2
Saddle up for an unforgettable journey in Red Dead Redemption 2. This gritty western prequel has you roaming 1899 America as Arthur Morgan, an outlaw navigating the death of the Wild West.
From picturesque mountains to dusty frontier towns, the game brings Old West America to life with unrivaled detail. Lose yourself in this world as you hunt, explore, and battle rival gangs and government forces. Red Dead 2 is a benchmark in open-world gaming with immersive gameplay and a sweeping story.
Focusing on the main story takes around 50 hours. But completists can pour over 180 hours into fully experiencing Red Dead's dynamic world. Get swept away in this poignant tale of loyalty and the slow death of the outlaw era.
Estimated playing time for Red Dead Redemption 2
* Main story: About 50 hours.
* 100% complete: At least 180 hours.
5. Persona 5 Royal
Persona 5 Royal masterfully combines a high school drama with metaphysical heist elements in this JPRG. You play as Joker, a student wrongfully accused of assault and transferred to a new school. You team up with other outcasts to explore the Metaverse, where suppressed psyches morph into distorted realities.
The game weaves an intricate narrative, balancing everyday student life with the fantastical adventures in the Metaverse, where battles against shadowy figures in surreal dungeons await. This dual-life dynamic creates a compelling experience as you navigate turn-based combat and social interactions, uncovering the truth behind Joker's predicament.
Persona 5 Royal is not just combat; it dives deep into personal stories against a jazzy soundtrack. With around 100 hours required for the main story and over 140 for completionists, it offers a rich, immersive experience. This edition's extensive post-game epilogue adds even more depth, making it an exceptional journey in the JRPG landscape.
Estimated playing time for Persona 5 Royal
* Main story: About 100 hours.
* 100% complete: At least 140 hours.
6. Cyberpunk 2077
Get lost in the neon-bathed dystopia of Night City in Cyberpunk 2077. CD Projekt Red's ambitious open-world RPG drops you into a high-tech future where body augmentations, corporate interests, and vice run rampant.
You play as V, a cyberpunk mercenary whose ambitious heist goes wrong, and you must navigate through the seedy criminal underbelly. Combat blends hacking abilities and gadgets with frantic gunplay for thrilling gameplay matched by an intricate main quest.
Night City brims with side activities from illegal racing to shadowy mercenary gigs. Character customization lets you craft unique hybrid classes to match your gaming style. And choices throughout alter the story in weighty, unexpected ways.
Cyberpunk 2077 delivers a gritty, adult sci-fi tale matched by immersive world-building. With over 24 hours for the primary campaign and 100+ to obtain 100% completion, it's an expansive future playground where you decide:
* Who to trust.
* Who to work for.
* How much body chrome to add.
The Phantom Liberty DLC represents Cyberpunk 2077 at its best - an engaging 12-hour expansion extending Night City's shadowy adventures.
Estimated playing time for Cyberpunk 2077
* Main story: About 24 hours.
* 100% complete: At least 100 hours.
7. Fallout 4: Game of the Year Edition
Fallout 4 drops you into a vast post-nuclear war Boston Wasteland. As the sole survivor, every moment is vital, and every decision shapes this post-apocalyptic world.
The deep RPG progression systems and unrestricted sandbox gameplay let you create a unique journey. From battling raiders to building entire settlements, Fallout 4 tailors the experience around your gameplay choices. The main story takes around 33 hours, while completionists can play for up to 212 hours.
Winner of 200+ awards, including the 2016 BAFTA, Fallout 4 is a testament to ambitious game design. This edition includes the acclaimed core game and six add-ons, including Automatron and Nuka-World. Determine the fate of civilization however you see fit in this genre-redefining post-apocalyptic RPG.
Estimated playing time for Fallout 4
* Main story: About 33 hours.
* 100% complete: At least 210 hours.
Kenshi is the definition of an open-world sandbox RPG in this Sword-Punk adventure. With no set quests or paths, you forge your destiny in this harsh yet atmospheric single-player PC game.
Survival is a relentless challenge as you battle bloodthirsty cannibals, brutal slavers, and wild beasts. You are no chosen hero; you must earn your strength and significance. Kenshi's unforgiving realism means you are not inherently superior.
Explore diverse landscapes, recruit followers, and build your settlements, as every choice shapes your emergent story. Your actions dictate your role, whether lone wanderer, settlement leader, or martial arts master. With 273 hours for 100% completion, forge your saga however you see fit in this genre-defying RPG.
Estimated playing time for Kenshi
* Main story: About 83 hours.
* 100% complete: At least 270 hours.
9. Assassin's Creed Valhalla
Assassin's Creed Valhalla plunges you into the heart of 9th-century England, a land ripe for the taking by Viking raiders. As Eivor, a Viking warrior, you lead your clan from the icy shores of Norway to conquer the fertile lands of England. With over 96 hours of gameplay, engage in a gripping narrative that intertwines Templar and Norse mythology.
In this open-world action RPG, your saga unfolds based on your decisions. Engage in brutal battles, lead fiery raids, eliminate foes by stealth, and forge alliances to establish dominance. The game's advanced RPG system creates a deeply personalized journey from every combat or conversation.
Three expansions extend the game even further:
* Wrath of the Druids whisks you to mystical Ireland to uncover Druidic secrets.
* The Siege of Paris concludes the Viking saga against the forces of Charles the Fat.
* Dawn of Ragnarök has you take the mantle of Odin to rescue his son Baldr from the dwarven realm.
See your legend evolve as your Viking settlement expands, unlocking new quests and activities. Assassin's Creed Valhalla offers an immersive Dark Ages experience where your decisions shape your path to glory.
Estimated playing time for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
* Main story: About 96 hours.
* 100% complete: 130 - 160 hours.
10. Elden Ring
Elden Ring is a masterpiece by Hidetaka Miyazaki and George R.R. Martin, redefining open-world gaming with its expansive dark fantasy universe. Elden Ring is a challenging game where you can't mash buttons to victory. Patience is required.
Set in the Lands Between, a realm rich with cryptic lore, intricate landscapes, and formidable boss battles. The shattered Elden Ring and the resulting chaos set the stage for an epic adventure. Enter as the Tarnished, rejected, and exiled; you must rise to power and rebuild the shattered Elden Ring that controls this expansive open world.
Elden Ring sets a new bar with its seamless world design, blending breathtaking landscapes with legacy dungeons full of secrets. Traverse these stunning environments on foot or horseback, alone or online. Extensive customization and strategic combat allow you to approach each challenge as you see fit, from stealth to all-out assaults.
Characters have complex stories; the creatures you encounter add to the game's rich narrative. The world seamlessly combines vast landscapes with dark dungeons. You can explore these stunning settings on foot, horseback, alone, or with friends online. The gameplay sets a new standard in the RPG genre, with many options for building your character and tackling battles.
Elden Ring rewards perseverance and exploration, inviting you to uncover its hidden stories at your own pace. Elden Ring is a masterclass in gameplay and narrative. It offers an adventure that's both challenging and profoundly rewarding.
Estimated playing time for Elden Ring
* Main story: About 30 hours.
* 100% complete: Around 100 hours.
As winter tightens its icy grip, now is the time to escape into sweeping realms of fantasy, history, and imagination. Lose yourself in legendary lands with these 10 long video games. Adventures expansive enough to make the bitter cold fade away. Burrow in, fire up your PC, and don't emerge until spring.
What is a Cyberdeck?
Cyberdecks are custom crafted personal computers that allow users to connect to cyberspace. These customized devices offer endless possibilities for techies to get creative and make their own stunning pieces of technology. Cyberdecks can be complex or simple depending on the user's needs and abilities and are often made to reflect a cyberpunk-style aesthetic. Standard cyberdecks are usually around the size of a paperback book and made of plastic, weighing approximately half a kilogram. Standard cyberdecks include a single-board computer with a display and keyboard.
Origins of the cyberdeck
The term cyberdeck stems from the 1984 novel Neuromancer by William Gibson, a science fiction genius who is said to have envisioned the internet and virtual reality before they existed. Laptops were not yet fully established in the 1980s, but they were already a prominent feature in Gibson’s cyberpunk world. Neuromancer depicts characters carrying chunky portable desktops known as cyberdecks, allowing them to access the Matrix, sci-fi’s forefather of the internet.
Why build a cyberdeck?
Cyberdecks are custom-made systems that take significantly more effort to design and build. So why build a cyberdeck in the first place? Building a cyberdeck from scratch gives users the freedom to include any type of component they choose, giving them greater control over every piece of equipment. Users can pick and choose components based on their individual requirements, allowing them to improve their decks and build something truly spectacular. From wiring and lights to cooling tubes and engraved panels, cyberdeck projects give gamers ultimate control.
What do I need to build a cyberdeck?
First, users should select a Single Board Computer or SBC. This can be overwhelming as there are hundreds of options with different capabilities to choose from. SBCs come with a pre-set amount of RAM and include a microprocessor, memory, and input and output functions. Alongside RAM, SBCs usually comprise a motherboard, power system, graphics, and sound chips. Raspberry Pi powers most custom cyberdecks, as they are user-friendly and have lots of available accessories. Users should also consider peripheral accessories like a mouse, which are often easier to choose as they depend on personal preference.
Next, users should find a suitable display, carefully selecting a size, resolution, and interface that meets their visual requirements. High resolution may be better for clear visuals and sharper images, leaving low-resolution displays for secondary use like showcasing system statistics. Finally, just like laptops, cyberdecks also require a reliable case. Designers can use 3D prints, hard cases, sheet metal, or even wood or acrylic.
If this sounds exhausting, there are a myriad of helpful online resources designed to help newbie or seasoned creators build their next project. Some even provide handy lists of basic parts required to build a cyberdeck. The beauty of constructing a cyberdeck is that users can include anything they like on a budget to suit them. It may appear to be an expensive hobby, but creating an outstanding deck does not have to break the bank. Many components are available for purchase on sites like eBay or Craigslist, or from e-waste recycling providers. These are treasure troves of electrical components that may nicely complement your next cyberdeck project. Second-hand or thrift stores should stock glue or cables as required.
Some cool cyberdecks as inspiration
If you are looking for cyberdeck inspiration, YouTube has some great resources as a reference. Fans and aspiring deck builders can check out the top custom Raspberry Pi cyberdeck projects, including an impressive six-screen device created with 3D printing. This particular invention includes six single-board computers that can be split into individual display systems and operated independently. Moreover, experienced cyberdeck builders also post video tutorials detailing how to build specific models and offer a detailed explanation of parts and components. The Hackaday Cyberdeck Contest is a great place to admire the work of others and push the boundaries of our own creative skills. Some cyberdecks are seriously cool, and luckily, their creators are willing to share them with the world for inspiration.
Cyberdeck newbies may feel overwhelmed with how to build a cyberdeck, but there are ample online resources available to ease the process. Before starting, creators must draw a detailed plan and diagram that accounts for the amount of space available. They should also try to maximize the number of ports and limit cable runs or crossings. Designs should be neat and compact, which requires research and forethought. Fortunately, there are plenty of cyberdeck designs and resources available online to inspire creators of all abilities.
Overwatch League Canceled, But Why?
Six years after the Overwatch League was formed, the popular event is coming to an end. Activision Blizzard is moving away from the esports league and taking its competitive Overwatch 2 scene elsewhere, the company announced in early November. Read on to find out the latest Overwatch news and what’s been happening in the space.
What is Overwatch?
Released in 2016 by Blizzard Entertainment, Overwatch is a competitive multiplayer team-based shooter; essentially, Overwatch is a 5v5 game played either with strangers across the internet (known as "solo queue") or a group of friends working together (known as "premades"). In a typical Overwatch match, two teams are running around a large area shooting each other while they either protect or defend an objective.
Overwatch has a couple dozen maps that vary wildly in size and construction. One map may find players escorting a priceless artifact through the streets of a futuristic African city; another may have them fighting over a small piece of territory in a research station on the Moon.
When first launched, Overwatch maps came in four different modes:
* Assault has one team attempting to capture two control points on a map within a limited amount of time. Once the offensive team captures both points or runs out of time, the teams switch from offense to defense and vice versa. The team that makes the most progress toward capturing their opponent’s points wins.
* Escort has each team alternate between offense and defense. In this mode, the mobile payload (usually representing an important object in Overwatch’s lore) has to be escorted past three checkpoints by the attacking team. Once the team reaches the third checkpoint or runs out of time, like in Assault mode, the two teams switch sides, and the former defenders now try to do better than the attackers.
* Hybrid is a combination of Assault and Escort. The attacking team needs to capture a point, like in Assault, and then escort a payload, like in Escort. Hybrid maps, including King’s Row and Eichenwalde, are generally more popular than maps of other modes because Hybrid allows for a variety of strategies to work depending on whether players are trying to capture or escort.
* Control is essentially a King of the Hill mode. Teams fight over a central location and attempt to gain control of it for a certain amount of time. Once the time is up, the next round starts in a wildly different part of the same map. Teams have to win two out of the three sections of the map in order to claim victory.
Heroes are the playable characters in Overwatch and are hands-down the best part of the game. Each hero offers a unique style of play, thanks to having a unique weapon, set of abilities, and ultimate skill. During gameplay, players can switch between heroes in the spawn room. Heroes come from a variety of national and ethnic backgrounds and occasionally speak in their native languages, exchanging specific dialogue with each other based on their character history and background.
New heroes are added to the game over time as free updates. Before playing the new heroes, players must unlock them by leveling up their Battle Pass to a certain level during the season they were added. Heroes can also be unlocked by purchasing the premium Battle Pass that season or by completing a set of hero challenges after the season. The game originally launched with 21 heroes, and 18 heroes were added over time, for a total roster of 39 heroes at the time of this writing.
Heroes are classified under one of three roles:
* Tank heroes are like the offensive linemen or centers of the game. Physically much larger than their counterparts, tanks generally have large amounts of health and armor, and they are almost always on the front lines.
* Damage heroes are like three-point shooters or cleanup hitters. Although every character in the game can do damage, damage heroes focus on it almost exclusively and are designed to secure eliminations (or “picks”) quickly. More than half of the game’s heroes are in the damage category, meaning there is an extremely wide variety of play styles among them.
* Support heroes are arguably the most important in the game, roughly akin to catchers in baseball or goalies in soccer. Supports spend much of their time preventing their teams from dying. All supports have the ability to heal their teammates from damage, but they each do so in different ways.
An ultimate is a hero’s superpower, their most powerful ability. Each hero’s ultimate is unique, and all ultimates have the power to tip a game from defeat to victory when played at the right time. Each hero builds up towards their ultimate; once their ultimate meter is at 100%, it is ready to go.
Hero selection and team composition are the foundation of competitive Overwatch strategy. Teams must consider how the heroes work with each other and how they work against the other team.
Overwatch 2, which launched in October 2022, is an upgraded version of Overwatch that adds a massive amount of new content and freshens up some of the game’s core features. For example, the upgrade brought in a new user interface, rebalanced the heroes, and introduced a shift to a free-to-play model, with premium seasonal passes completely replacing the game’s hot-topic loot box mechanic. In terms of gameplay, Overwatch 2 sticks to the core objective-focused map modes but switches things up with 5v5 instead of 6v6 matches.
Some of the other changes introduced in Overwatch 2 include the following:
* Significant changes to many of the abilities and play styles of some of the game’s iconic heroes, including Orisa, Doomfist, and Bastion.
* New maps, including Esperança, Colosseo, and New Queen Street.
* Assault mode was removed. A new competitive quick play mode called Push was added.
* New cosmetics and Arcade modes.
What is the Overwatch League?
The Overwatch League was an international esports league produced by Blizzard Entertainment that comprised 20 city-based teams and featured the best Overwatch players on the planet. With $5 million in prizes, thrilling storylines, guaranteed player salaries, and cutting-edge production value, the Overwatch League was the world’s premier professional esports league.
Running from 2018 to 2023, the Overwatch League followed the model of other traditional North American professional sporting leagues by using a set of permanent, city-based teams across North America, Europe, and Asia that were backed by separate ownership groups. The league used the regular season and playoffs format rather than the promotion and relegation approach used commonly in other esports and non–North American leagues, with players on the roster being assured a minimum annual salary, benefits, a portion of winnings, and revenue-sharing based on team performance.
The league began with 12 teams for its inaugural season, which started on January 10, 2018, and expanded to 20 teams for the 2019 season and 19 for 2023. The 12 teams participating in 2018 were from across the United States, Europe, and Asia, and each invested $20 million in franchise fees.
History of the Overwatch League
When the Overwatch League was announced in 2016, it was billed as a way to legitimize esports. It imagined an esports program that operated like the National Football League or National Hockey League, where teams—tied to cities—had a permanent spot and traveled to the home areas of other teams across the world for games. Though traditional sports owners bought into the Overwatch League, including New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke, that vision never really came to fruition.
For the first few seasons, the Overwatch League operated primarily out of the Blizzard Arena in Los Angeles, save for a few “homestead” weekends where teams tested the home-and-away game format. Some teams even planned multimillion dollar arenas, like Philadelphia Fusion’s $50 million Fusion Arena. (The lot remains empty, but owner Comcast Spectacor said it still intends to build a multiuse arena there). The home-and-away setup fizzled out as the Overwatch League transitioned into strict online play during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Things got much, much worse for the Overwatch League when big sponsors dropped support for Activision Blizzard following the California Civil Rights department’s lawsuit against the company for a toxic work environment. In-person events kicked up again in 2022, but interest in the league—and in Overwatch 2—continued to dwindle into 2023.
Why did it get canceled?
* After the conclusion of the 2023 season, two-thirds of the Overwatch League teams decided to leave the league, prompting Activision Blizzard to abandon the current model.
* Activision Blizzard will pay nearly $120 million to 20 contracted teams as they move toward creating a new competitive framework for the game.
* The closure of the Overwatch League was no surprise, given Activision Blizzard’s overblown ambitions, financial burdens, and the impact of a scandal about a toxic work environment that led sponsors to cut ties and a decline in interest from fans.
The move to cancel the Overwatch League was announced in a post on X from the official Overwatch League account, which stated that the organization will focus on “building our vision of a revitalized esports program” moving forward.
No details have yet been provided about what will potentially replace the Overwatch League; however, Activision Blizzard is adamant that competitive Overwatch 2 isn’t done for, whatever this new format may be.
The first definitive signs that the Overwatch League’s future could be in doubt came earlier this year when an Activision Blizzard financial report revealed that teams were set to vote on a new operating agreement.
Under the terms proposed by Blizzard, Overwatch League teams voting not to continue with the program were eligible for a $6 million termination fee. This gave teams participating in the Overwatch League a strong financial incentive not to continue their partnership with the program. Teams who hadn’t already paid their franchising fee for the year were set to earn even more following forgiveness of the fees owed to Blizzard, resulting in approximately $12–$13.5 million in incentive per team to let the league crumble.
Although Blizzard managed to attract some top players from around the world to its competitive program, delays in the development of Overwatch 2 and concerns over allegations of a toxic work environment at Blizzard led to the Overwatch League losing advertisers in recent years, putting the organization’s financial future in doubt. Blizzard may simply see continued investment in the Overwatch League as financially unsustainable as it continues to cut costs across the company.
What does the future hold for the competitive Overwatch scene?
Although the Overwatch League will be gone forever, the Overwatch esports concept is very much alive and well. According to industry insider and investigative journalist Jacob Wolf in early November 2023, Activision Blizzard hopes to run the next iteration of its Overwatch esports program in partnership with ESL FACEIT, a leading esports organizer and broadcaster and subsidiary of the Saudi Public Investment Fund. ESL FACEIT is the company behind the broadcast and promotion of Activision Blizzard’s other esports organization, the Call of Duty League.
With negotiations between ESL FACEIT and Activision Blizzard apparently beginning long before the Overwatch League team owner vote was called, it appears that serious doubts about the league’s future had been long-standing.
Although the Overwatch League has been incredibly influential in legitimizing esports on the global stage, it has proven a very expensive venture for franchise owners, and the big, expensive bet on the Overwatch League has finally been called off.