If FaceTiming is the digital version of a physical visit with someone, then eSports is the digital version of playing or watching sports in person. While the first concept is easy to comprehend and widely accepted as a legitimate form of communication, eSports—more commonly referred to as competitive gaming—has yet to be embraced with the same degree of approval, from parents in particular. This parent’s guide to eSports helps explain it all.
Parent’s Guide to eSports
Parents are concerned their children are spending too much time in front of a screen “just watching other people play video games.” However, most don’t understand how eSports have evolved, how it impacts the mind, and the potential it has in providing lucrative career opportunities.
Leading gaming expert Newzoo predicted the global gaming market would generate $159.3 billion in revenue in 2020 and surpass $200 billion in 2023. Based on the industry’s current upward trajectory, those numbers could be as high as $300 billion over the next five years.
That’s not surprising considering its growing popularity driven over the last decade by the video-streaming service Twitch and more recently COVID lockdowns. In fact, according to MarketWatch, gaming is now the biggest moneymaker in entertainment, raking in more revenue than the worldwide movie and North American sports industries combined. And top players are earning well into the millions every year.
But winning big isn’t the only thing eSports bring to the table. Below are just a few of the many benefits of competitive gaming for players and viewers alike.
Engagement & Socialization
Competitive gaming provides mental engagement and socialization in the same way a physical sport exercises the body and helps individuals learn the rules of good sportsmanship. Working with a team, players must make split-second decisions and coordinate strategies with teammates, gaining skills and values similar to those acquired through traditional sports. These games also promote team-building and camaraderie, which can improve self-esteem and instill confidence.
Alternative Career Paths
Comparative to professional athletes in football, baseball, basketball and hockey, gamers who break into the highest tier of play definitely reap the benefits of tremendous payouts; however, even players at the amateur level can build a solid career in the industry.
Today, many colleges, including those ranking at the top, offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in research, development, design, and scripting, with increasing job opportunities across a broad spectrum of positions, from production to sales.
New Ways for Families to Bond
Whether a child is exploring a long-term career path or gaming for fun, eSports can serve as a bridge to connect family members while at home or across the miles. Because most games were designed for multiple players, there are no limits to the number and no barrier to entry. The only thing required is a willingness to learn and try something new. This goes for parents, too.
For those still not quite ready to support their youngsters engaging in eSports, it’s worth reviewing these key findings from a recent survey conducted by the National Literacy Trust in Great Britain. Among other things, video games can:
- provide a route into reading and improve confidence in reading skills
- improve creativity through writing
- support positive communication with friends and family
- increase empathy
- support mental wellbeing
There is nothing more critical to the health, wellbeing and success of a child than parental support. Like traditional sports, eSports and competitive gaming require commitment. Young people must practice and train if they want to advance their capabilities. But they need encouragement.
When a child expresses enthusiasm and passion, parents can play a pivotal role in helping them not only achieve their goals but also find a healthy balance in screen time and other activities. As the future continues to offer more reasons why gaming will remain a serious contender for a child’s attention, it’s important to stay aware of his or her multiplayer game habits and set some pregame rules of the house, so everybody knows what’s expected when it comes to time limits, behavior and online and physical safety.
While there’s little possibility of broken bones or concussions, players can suffer injuries — from carpal tunnel syndrome, deep-vein thrombosis, tennis elbow and back pain — all of which are known to occur as a result of excessive gaming. Investing in ergonomic chairs, mouse and a keyboard or controller will help prevent injury. Encouraging physical activity outdoors for at least an hour a day is also advised.
As the shift toward digital accelerates, with the potential of 5G, virtual and mixed realities and artificial intelligence to enrich the way we experience the world, there’s no better time for parents to reconsider their views toward eSports—and consider embracing this exciting alternative to competitive sports that could positively impact their child for years to come.