In this guest article, Freelance Journalist and creator of the Family Gaming Database, Andy Robertson, shares his experiences on how a parent or guardian can become more involved with their children in esports.
When your child tells you they need to quit school to start a career as an esports athlete, you may not rush to support this particular dream. It can be worrying when a child finds a demanding hobby you don’t know much about.
The dream of being an esports competitor is becoming more common. It’s easy to dismiss this as unrealistic or unhealthy. However, esports aspirations are more akin to being a premiership footballer than YouTube influencer. It’s an area of video games that is driven by hard work and talent rather than image or personality.
Over the years I’ve worked with parents who have children with esports aspirations and have developed these tips to help them guide their child’s hopes and dreams in positive and healthy directions.1. Research the game they love:
A really important step is to understand the game that your child is enjoying competing at. Resources like the Family Video Game Database provide information specifically for parents, with no jargon and all the details you need.
This enables you to understand what is exciting about the game, how it is played competitively and the sorts of skills your child may need to do well.
2. Play the game they love:
I know this suggestion sounds a little ridiculous for busy parents. But once you have a good understanding of the game from your research it’s really helpful to play the game yourself. You don’t need to be good at it, or even understand everything that is happening. But dipping your toe in (perhaps with the help of your child) is really helpful.
If you had never played or watched football, it would be hard to guide a child who wanted to start a journey into playing the game professionally. The same is true of video games.
3. Read up about esports:
There are some excellent resources to help you understand esports as an activity. Whether its books like What Is Esports or resources on the British Esports website, this helps you understand what your child actually needs to do to start competing, rather than what they may assume or be told by their peers or less mature competitors.
You will soon discover that quitting school is actually the last thing to do here. Like any sport, to do well they need discipline, understanding, resilience and a good backing of education.
4. Get support:
As with any sport, there are a number of groups set-up by parents of children who are into esports. Talking to other parents is really important, and unlike other areas of our children’s lives easy to overlook. Telling friends that our child is doing well at Rocket League gets a different response to telling them they are into Tennis.
Organisations like COPE (https://cope.gg/) are an excellent place to get support and understanding from other parents who are at a range of different stages in their child’s journey.
5. Be ambitious:
With video games it can seem counterintuitive to be ambitious for the place they hold in your child’s life. We can see them like sweets or sugary drinks, that our role is to minimise them until they grow out of them.
But as we start to understand more about what video games offer our children, we can start to see it as an advantage to have a child who loves to play. Along with the competitive side of esports, there are many games that offer a calming experience, or space to understand identity, or a place to make new friends and try new things.
Our children will instinctively be ambitious to win and rise through the ranks. We can offer a different kind of ambition, with a longer view. We can be ambitious enough for them to play unusual games. We can be ambitious for them to try experiences that challenge more than their reflexes. We can also be ambitious for a future in esports that extends beyond their playing days, to consider the sorts of skills the industry will need in the future.