Let’s face it, when it comes to the generation gap, understanding young people and their interests can be a challenge. Times change quickly, as do trends, and now—more than ever—so does technology. So, when your kid boldly announces that they want to be a pro gamer when they grow up, or if you ask what they’re into nowadays and they say, “Esports, duh!” it’s understandable if you don’t necessarily know what that means. Luckily, we’re here to break it down for you. Whether you think you might be interested in getting into esports yourself, or if you just want a primer on the basics so you don’t get totally lost next time your child starts going off about what’s up with their favorite streamer, here’s a breakdown of all that you need to know when it comes to the world of esports.
To start, let’s breakdown what exactly esports are. As with the traditional sports industry, esports are all about the competitive aspect of these games, complete with teams, viewership and fans. Only, instead of basketball, the game being played is League of Legends, for instance. In our piece on the “O.G.’s of Esports,” we talk about one of the most iconic moments in early esports history, and in doing so, go over how the esports industry got its start amid the gaming enthusiast community and fan-organized tournaments, ultimately becoming one of the biggest industries in the world.
Part of the development of esports as an industry has a lot to do with the ways in which esports have diversified beyond the sphere of competitions and tournaments. In addition to these more familiar modes of looking at “sporting,” e- or otherwise, there’s another element to esports that parents should know about: streaming. In our piece “The Rise of Streaming,” we break down the basics of streaming and some of the major platforms, namely Twitch and YouTube, among others. One thing of note that might surprise some parents is the sheer variety of content streamers are creating. From actual gameplay to just talking and interacting with fans, there are a lot of different kinds of streams out there, not to mention variety of streamers themselves, all of whom have different personalities and styles. If your kid is into gaming, they’re just as likely to have a favorite streamer as they are to have a favorite team, and most likely, they follow them on various social media platforms. Check them out; explore what’s out there. Find a streamer that you like for yourself.
Say your child has expressed interest in going pro. Whether that’s getting into competition, streaming, or content creation, to you, that may sound like an unrealistic pipe dream. But actually, it’s not as far-fetched as it might seem. While a couple years ago a dismissive parent might sneer at the thought of video games being gainful means of employment, now, there are figures in the esports industry that make outlandishly large sums of money doing just that. From sponsorship deals to prize pools, there are actual professional prospects when it comes to gaming. However, as with anything, it’s not as easy as it may sound. Making it in esports is comparable to making it as a pro athlete or a professional actor or musician. Can it be done? Yes. Is it highly competitive? Yes indeed. Is it an overly-saturated market? Arguably. Should you advise your kid to pick a different path? Maybe not. You don’t want to be the parent that urges their kids to abandon the dream and in the process, end up denying them a multi-million dollar career. And no, that is not an exaggeration.
In our interview with FaZe Clan manager extraordinaire Jordan Galen, Meet Jordan Galen, One of the Mighty Managers at FaZe Clan, we offer an inside look into the careers of pro gamers. Galen actually represents a roster of gamers on the younger side, including minors, and as such, offers some insight that would definitely be worth checking out as parents. But before your kids even make it to the pro level, being aware of competitive gaming at the high school and collegiate level is a must. Our piece, on “The Rise of Varsity Esports,” gives you the lowdown on academic gaming. And yes, there are scholarships available.
It’s often said that a parent’s main job is to worry. Understandable. So, what are some concerns you might have when it comes to esports? Well, if you’re worried about “Health and Esports: The Potential Impact on Pro Gamers’ Bodies,” we’ve looked into it. Are there things to be concerned about? Sure. But by balancing screen time with physical activity and keeping an eye out for worrisome chronic injuries like carpal tunnel, esports are less likely to cause injury than say, football. Ultimately, by connecting virtually with others through gaming, esports can lead to increased socialization and a sense of community. While there are always issues regarding toxicity in esports and gaming, more than many industries, esports is actively looking to address diversity, inclusion, and accessibility. Regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, and ability, gaming is for everyone and there are increasingly available communities of gamers that fall into all of these categories and more. For many kids who might struggle to fit in elsewhere, gaming can actually be an amazing entryway to finding a place where they feel like they belong.
Ultimately, as a parent, the most you can do is try to be as informed as possible. Luckily, there’s plenty of information out there. The great thing about gaming is, as has been mentioned, since it’s for everyone, it’s for you, too. Exploring and finding your own avenues of interest in gaming and esports, if nothing else, will potentially give you something to bond over with your kids. Our article, “So You Wanna Get Into Esports? Here’s Where to Start” has some great tips about which games to try your hand at, which streaming platforms to check out, and more.
We’ve given you a crash course as well as a bunch of resources for more deep dives. The rest is up to you.