Updated: May 24
Esports is the professional world of gaming. The video game called League of Legends is in the middle of their ninth world championship. The finals will be hosted in Paris, France on November 10th at the AccorHotels Arena. Esports teams from across the world will compete for a prize pool of at least $2.2 million. The prize pool is expected to increase to more than $6.4 by the finals.
How is this possible? How does someone get on a professional gaming team and win millions of dollars from playing a video game? Can’t anyone just play enough video games and become a millionaire?
What is Esports?
All professional sports have their own league - NFL, NBA, MLB, etc. Esports is the professional league for video games. Players on professional gaming teams act similarly to those in other professional sports. They train together, exercise, and eat meals together. They usually live in the same house and have a coach. Professional gamers are dedicated to improving their own skills to become the best team in their league.
Mom, I Want to be a Professional Gamer!
Playing video games for a living sounds pretty good! Many kids today look up to professional gamers wishing they could do that one day. And if you’re good enough, making a living from playing a video game is possible. But to a parent, that could be scary.
What do you say when your kid says, “Mom, I want to be a professional gamer?”
Your child tells you about the 16-year-old who won $3 million from playing Fortnite or the 20-year-old who won over $1.8 million from one tournament. With that kind of money, they could be set for life.
Is This a Legitimate Career Option?
If your child comes to you saying they want to do nothing but play video games, don’t panic. Compare it to any other professional sport. If they came to you and said they wanted to be a professional basketball player, what would be your thoughts?
Are they tall enough, big enough, and good enough to play professionally? Have they played in high school and/or college? Do they have that natural talents and dedication to become a pro? Do they honestly have what it takes to be a professional basketball player?
A 5.5 kid will never play in the NBA. He could watch every Michael Jordan clip and practice for hours on end but a child who is not physically able to compete at a professional level will never be able to play in the NBA.
The Michael Jordan of Gaming
It takes a lot of skill, lighting fast reflexes, quick processing speed, and great hand-eye coordination to competitive on a professional video game level. Like basketball, some are more gifted than others. A child who games for hours on end but their hand-eye coordination is bad and processing speed is slow, they probably will never be on a professional gaming team. To be the Michael Jordan of gaming, you need to have certain natural talents as well as dedication.
NBA Dreams Shifted
What does the 5.5 boy do when he learns he will never be in the NBA? He has a few options.
1. He can continue to play basketball with the false hope of one day going pro.
2. He can continue to play basketball recreationally. He can shift his desire of being in the NBA to playing for fun and enjoying the exercise.
3. He can shift his career path. He can invest his time and energy in exploring and developing another career he would enjoy.
This can be applied to gamers. If a child has no chance in competing with the very best gamers, then picking options 2 or 3 could be best. They can play casually by themselves or with friends, but with the understanding it’s not going to lead them to an Esports team. Maybe they can shift their focus away from games and onto something else they are passionate about. They can explore other careers that excite them.
Healthy Gaming No Matter What
No matter what option your gamer has, healthy gaming boundaries are important. They legitimately might be the next Michael Jordan of gaming but they still need to meet their academic, social, familial, and personal responsibilities.
As the parent, you have the right and responsibility to enforce healthy gaming times. If they are using gaming to improve their life, then allowing them to continue is good. If they have a legitimate shot at making millions from being on a professional gaming team, then support that. But if they exhibit signs of problematic or addictive gaming use, then gaming is not adding but taking away from their lives.
If your child wants to be on an Esports team, talk with them about it. Learn all you can about your child’s perspective and why they like the games they play, and watch, so much. Rather than suppressing their desire to be a professional gamer, explore it. They could have a lucrative career.
Like any professional sport, many want to go pro but few actually will. The probability of your child becoming a professional Esports gamer is low due to the amount of competition. About 90% of teens play video games in America. Like the 5.5 kid wanting to be in the NBA, most teen gamers will never make it to Esports.
Don't be afraid to talk about professional gaming with your kids. Have a healthy, open conversation with your child about their gaming goals. They could make it big, or not. Either way, your support and guidance is needed.