Esports community donates money, computers to victims of Butte County wildfire

High school esports players in the North America Scholastic Esports Federation have rallied to support their fellow gamers to the north who were impacted by last year’s Camp Fire, considered the deadliest and most destructive fire in California’s history.

More than $65,000 in cash and dozens of computers were presented to the Butte County Office of Education during a reception on May 15. The contributions came from NASEF members — including many from Orange County — their friends and families, and partners including the Samueli Foundation and hardware-maker iBUYPOWER.

“Before the fire, our students were enthusiastically implementing NASEF clubs, practicing for national competitions, and learning about career possibilities in the esports world,” Butte County Superintendent Mary Sakuma said. “The fire pushed that down on the priority list, but we’re thrilled to again rally our students around scholastic esports, an environment where students build a tight-knit community and lifelong career skills at the same time.”

iBUYPOWER provided 40 desktops, laptops and hardware that will be used to replace and upgrade equipment for high school esports clubs and computer labs across the region. The cash balance will be used to buy monitors and equipment, support installation of new machines, and help expand the esports program.

Funded by the Samueli Foundation, the NASEF was launched in Orange County last year with support from the Orange County Department of Education and other partners looking to connect young people’s interest in gaming to real-world learning. That league has since expanded into a national federation that uses esports as a platform to help students acquire critical communication, collaboration and problem-solving skills.

“After a tragedy like the Camp Fire, it’s vital for students to connect with their friends and to be supported through their recovery,” said Dr. Constance Steinkuehler, an NASEF advisor and an expert on the cognitive and social aspects of gaming. “Some might think it’s silly to encourage kids who’ve gone through this kind of tragedy to play video games, but the team spirit and the camaraderie of their clubs provides both valuable emotional support and a creative outlet.”

Representatives from the NASEF, OCDE, UCI and the Samueli Foundation are scheduled to participate in the Inven Global Esports Conference at UCI on June 4. For more information, visit