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Playing ‘League of Legends’ improves grades

How one student uses the game as encouragement for performing in school, and why he contends that it’s beneficial to play video games

“Video games helped drive my competitive spirit, and I believe it would do the same for almost any Chemeketa student here,” he says.

Salvador Martinez

Salvador Martinez

By Jace Woods Photo By Jace Woods

Getting good grades is tough, as every college student knows.

Everyone has an idea on how to do it well, from taking detailed notes of lectures to highlighting and studying the textbook to researching in the library and online to … you name it.

Using video games as an aid to get good grades isn’t something that automatically springs to mind when students offer their best ideas on how to succeed at college.

But that’s exactly the approach that one Chemeketa student has used to improve his mindset and his grades.

Salvador Martinez, a second-year Chemeketa student, says the video game League of Legends – LoL, for short – has inspired his success story in earning good grades.

“In high school, I had no attention span and no care for school in general,” Martinez, a computer science student, said. “Grades were the last thing on my mind.”

But something changed between the time that he spent at Cascade High School to the time when he enrolled at Chemeketa.

“I got wrapped up in League of Legends,” Martinez said.

The popular Multiplayer Online Battle Arena game attracts 67 million monthly players.

“Before I played League, I usually just sat around my house and tried to find something to do, primarily working out,” Martinez said.

With a 2.33 GPA throughout the first two years of high school, Martinez says he had a tough time finding a reason to perform well in school.

But the time that he spent with League of Legends provided him with a fresh commitment.

“It seemed to kind of mesh together, I guess. Having fun playing the game, for whatever reason, gave me motivation and helped me perform better in school as well,” he said.

Martinez isn’t the only Chemeketa student who finds motivation from the game.

Austin White, another League of Legends fan, said, “It makes me feel like I use every part of my brain, and I love the constant action.”

Martinez and Austin might be onto something.

According to David Medlock, a psychology teacher who Martinez calls an inspiration during his high school days, video games can relieve stress and improve overall health.

“When played in moderation, video games are great stress relievers and can help develop energy and focus for school and for work,” Medlock said.

When Martinez entered his senior year, his grades continued to go up.

“I was in a computer technology class with a lot of peers for a majority of my senior year,” he said. “We just hung out, fixed stuff, and played LoL. The friends I made in that class can last a while thanks to League. … It was also an easy A.”

When he’s not playing League, Martinez said that working out is a favorite pastime – another good habit that he plans to keep.

“I continue to consistently work out,” he says. “I love bodybuilding. League simply offers me something to do when I’m not at the gym.”

Thanks to his newfound gaming hobby, Martinez finished at Cascade with a 3.25 grade-point average, a full letter grade boost higher from where he was at the halfway point in his high school education.

“I completely connect the change in grades to my passion for League,” he said. “Maybe it was all the excitement from a close game, translated into the assignment I completed right after it.”

Martinez says he didn’t find the game that helped save his grades on his own.

“My friends got me to play the game, and at first I was hesitant,” he says. “But being able to talk to each other and have a good time was the main reason I kept coming back, and eventually I got hooked.”

The shift in his grades also translated to a shift in his attitude.

“He seems more excited in general about how he goes about his day since we’ve started playing League of Legends,” Eloy Torres, a first-year Chemeketa student and Martinez’s best friend, says. “His grades weren’t the only thing that LoL improved.”

After a year and a half at Chemeketa, Martinez continues to play the game and currently has a 3.5 GPA, building on the success that he found in high school after taking up LoL.

Medlock says, “Salvador was one of my favorite students, and he still tends to visit me once or twice a year. … Having seen his improvement through high school, it’s no surprise that he is finding success at Chemeketa.”

Martinez insists that other students could gain from the same approach.

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