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This Breaking News Can Mean Only One Thing: The New Era of Video Games is Here

Today’s blog is from Andrew McPeak. Andrew is a next gen researcher, speaker, and author for Growing Leaders. 

Imagine with me an America that is slightly different than the one we know today. In every neighborhood of major cities across America, you find small internet cafes that offer top of the line gaming PCs which interested gamers can rent for about a dollar an hour. Gamers in these establishments frequently spend as many as 12 to 14 hours playing at a time, with only brief breaks for the restroom and to get something to eat. Once the gamers decide it’s finally time for rest the wander home and turn on the television, where they watch competitive gaming on a 24-hour esports tournament channel. The two professional teams playing are favorites of his, so instead of napping he watches. The celebrity players on these professional gaming teams are more well-known (and well paid) than most actors, musicians, and even politicians.  Tomorrow, this gamer will wake up and do it all over again. After all, he’s trying to go pro.

Sounds crazy right?

Not only is it not as crazy as it sounds, all of these scenarios are already realities in other parts of the world. Places like South Korea, which is widely considered to be the center of online gaming. Japan too has regularly filled its ‘internet addiction centers’ since they first opened  in 2011. Along with this gaming trend that is quickly making its way across the ocean, come a whole host of problems. Chiefly among those problems is the growing issue of gaming addiction.

Just last week the World Health Organization deemed “Gaming Addiction” an officially recognized illness, marking a turning point in the emergence of esports as a concrete reality of our world. Gaming and its dark twin gaming addiction will soon be, and in some ways already are, a regular part of collective society. Let’s put it another way. If you think of video games as the past time of overgrown man children in mom’s basement or as groups of middle school boys binging on Fortnite, you are sorely mistaken.

Three Facts about Gaming that May Surprise You

I want to explore with you the reality of gaming today. After all, we cannot lead our students and kids through this changing landscape if we do not first understand the new territory in which we now live.

1. Professional Gamers Make Real Salaries.

That’s right, the world’s top gamers can now easily make a living from their craft. In 2017, the top eSports athlete was Kuro Takhasomi who earned $ 3.6 Million in one year. The average professional gamer is making about $60,000 per year, which is still not a bad salary in the mind of a hopeful teenager.

2. Watching Video Games is Now Bigger Than Traditional Spectator Sports.

The most fascinating part of the new wave of gaming is not the kids who are playing, but the millions who are watching. The average gaming fan is watching eSports 3 hours and 25 minutes per week.  On top of this, major eSports events like world tournaments can draw millions. More people now live stream the League of Legends final each year than watch the NBA finals.

3. Only 0.1% of Kids Will Have a Chance to Become Professional Gamers.

One big myth that a lot of aspiring young professional gamers have is that if I am winning a lot when playing games on Friday night at home, that must mean I could make it big time. That just isn’t true. By most calculations, it’s harder to become a professional gamer, that it is to become a professional athlete. Some even estimate that there are only about 500 professional gamers in the world who can live off of their earnings. That means the odds are not good.

What Do We Do To Stop the Addiction?

So, what’s a parent, leader, or mentor to do? Let me make a few suggestions.

1. Learn more about the culture of gaming. There are lots of ways to learn more about gaming culture. The most fascinating way I have seen up to this point is a five part documentary series released by Vice a few years ago. It reveals gaming culture in South Korea, both professional and amateur, and explores all of its peripheral cultures like cosplay and internet addiction centers.

2. Ask Your students what they think: is gaming a past time or a life ambition? You don’t know unless you ask. For lots of kids, gaming is just something they do with friends on the weekends. For others, becoming a professional gamer is something they aspire to. Your approach to how you lead your students through this conversation should change drastically depending on how they view it.

3. Develop a strategy for gaming in your house. Ultimately, if you want to lead your kids or students well, you have to make a plan. If you want the plan to stick, it’s best if you answer the following questions with them, rather than for How much time should be spent on video games per week? How much streaming are we going to watch each week (think Twitch and YouTube)? What gaming systems should we bring into our home? What kinds of games are we going to play? How will we tell when we’ve played too long? What emotionally healthy practices will we pick up when we aren’t gaming?

4. Keep an eye out for addiction. If you think your child has gone past ‘playing a lot’ and might actually be addicted, consider seeking help. There are a lot of great resources out there that can help you know where to start.

Gaming, and internet addiction are real and growing problems in our world we must acknowledge and act on. Some adults will choose to ignore this trend, others will freak out and mow over their kid’s games. My humble suggestion is that we find an answer in the middle.

7 Comments

  1. Niky on June 4, 2019 at 7:18 am

    We did those steps with our teens.
    1st we sought to understand the game, what attracted them to play it etc
    2nd we asked them about where they were heading in life … one was thinking about pro – they knew and followed pro’s
    3rd we set up family guidelines where we all agreed screen time limits in the week, and also had an option to save up double time for Saturday’s (encouraging delayed gratification)
    4th because the kids were recording their own time, they noticed how they only intended popping on for 20 mins, but ended up being on there for hours (which means that there plan to use double time on Saturday was gone!)
    It worked for us – we only recorded it for a few weeks – but it set up healthier habits around gaming for them, without a parenting battle!!

  2. Grace on June 4, 2019 at 9:53 am

    A very interesting article, especially because I am from South Korea and grew up with internet café infatuation in the late 1990s. My brother was a victim of gaming addiction. He started spending one hour a day and grew to 12 hours a day within a month. Now he is 35 years old and deeply regretting his waste of time and passion. What my parents did was waiting for teenage years to pass and finally gave up when he started not coming home for three days at a time. In my opinion, it is a fight, new in form but not different from anything else we do in life. We lose focus and balance, then we fall. We have fear and pessimistic outlook, then we cannot stand firm. As a current parent of two teenagers, I believe that I should fight for our kids to stay balanced and constantly remind them of who they are. We need strategies, plans and alternatives to gaming and screen time. We need to be educated, open-minded, and persistent. As long as there is communication and willingness to be present no matter what, there is always hope and future.

  3. Kim on June 4, 2019 at 10:49 am

    I really struggle with this with my son. We have tried to get him interested in other things and he’s just not as much. What do you do when you have a 13 year old who does not like sports and loves video games and is wired that way? For the summer we are doing five hours a day. That seems like a lot but when they don’t know what else to do with their time in a day it goes fast! That’s all screen time though (minus tv time which he’s not as into) We are planning other things like an air soft outing with a friend and rock climbing with dad but when we’re at home it’s all he thinks about. It’s hard when he has always been passionate about gaming like other boys are about sports yet I can’t get behind his passion like other parents can about their kids joining sports. I don’t know if that makes sense. It’s a really hard balance and I keep searching for the right way to go about this!

    • Christopher on June 4, 2019 at 9:16 pm

      Kim-

      Is it possible to get your son outside, reading books, or exploring sites around your town? You may work and not be able to do this. I teach 3rd grade and many of my students want to spend all their time playing video games. We had ten snow days and many never went sledding or took time to build a snowman. Even if your son isn’t into sports, he could possibly get connected with nature. Sometimes, kids need a clean break instead of a time limit (at least for a while) to see the value in other activities. Please take my suggestions with a grain of salt as my own children are 4 years old and 3 months old! But, I do have a lot of frustrated parents who reach out. By the way, I grew up on Nintendo, but my parents forced me outdoors too. All the best!

      Christopher

      • Kimberly on June 5, 2019 at 10:06 pm

        Thank you for the reply Christopher! That is really helpful and I appreciate your insight. A clean break might be a good idea. I am also trying to get him to hang out with his cousin more who thinks outside of video gaming for fun things to do. Although sometimes they get into trouble that way, but at least it’s outside of looking at a screen 🙂 we’re trying to go on runs and walks but he usually fights us on getting out in nature. We force him then he’s ok with it after awhile:) he’s in that “everything is boring” 13 year old stage as well. He’s a good friendly guy. It’s just a really tough stage. Thank you again for the feedback!

  4. […] We recently shared out another article on our social media that shared further insight on the evolving gaming evolution posted in FORBES […]

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This Breaking News Can Mean Only One Thing: The New Era of Video Games is Here