A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Esports

November 8, 2018

In 1982, Tom Hanks (that’s two-time Academy Award winner Tom Hanks) starred in a made-for-TV movie called “Mazes and Monsters.”

It’s…not good.

The movie focuses on four college students who spend their free time playing a fictionalized version of Dungeons and Dragons. By the time the film wraps up, two characters have made attempted suicide, one character becomes a murderer (although in self-defense), and Hanks’ character has a complete psychotic break and believes he is his game avatar. All due to a table-top game.

What’s worse is that this movie was based on a book, which was a highly fictionalized and inaccurate version of a real-world incident where a student went missing. The student’s disappearance – despite him dealing with depression, loneliness, parental pressure, and drug addiction – was exclusively linked to playing Dungeons and Dragons.

It’s now three and a half decades later and wild misconceptions about games and gaming culture still persist, although they’ve mostly migrated to video games. Video games are frequently vilified by people who don’t play them. The misconceptions run the gamut from the belief that video games encourage gamers to be disenfranchised and lazy to the belief that they encourage gamers to become marginalized and violent.

In reality, video games are a social activity, with a majority of gamers using them to connect with their friends. Gaming has also been shown to help improve people’s ability to work through complex social and psychological issues while helping to improve decision making and perceptual skills.

Fortunately, most people can deal with these misconceptions of video games with a simple eye roll. However, for those who are interested in a career in gaming and esports, these misconceptions can be rather problematic.

Still, the best way to deal with misconceptions is to educate those who have them. Which is why a significant portion of the recent OP Live Dallas gaming and esports event was focused on informing attendees about various aspects of esports. There were talks for students interested in breaking into the industry, sessions for those already in the industry, and workshops for parents unfamiliar with esports.

One of the latter sessions was held by Lean Mateos, a graduate from SMU Guildhall with a masters in video game level design and a minor in art and scripting. He is now a junior designer at Gearbox Software.

“Usually if a kid is passionate about physical sports,” said Mateos, “whether it be basketball, football, or baseball, parents don’t tend to question the amount of time they put into that sport. However, when it comes to esports, sometimes there’s a little bit of negativity that comes along with it from a parent’s perspective.”

What is Esports?

Mateos’ presentation, titled “A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Esports,” began by simply defining the esports industry.

“The terminology ‘esports’ is meant to emphasize teamwork and competitiveness that you normally find in physical sports. The idea is to translate that concept into an electronic format. Esports, and video games in general, allow people who may not be as physically gifted or able-bodied to experience that same level of comradery and competitiveness that you find in physical sports. Competitive gaming is a great way also for kids to practice that same amount of teamwork but within a safe environment,” said Mateos.

What are the Opportunities in the Esports Industry?

Mateos then transitioned his talk into the concept of esports as a career. He began by introducing the tremendous growth the industry has experienced over the past few years.

“A great way to understand how successful esports has been is if we look at the revenue growth within the last three years or so. Their revenue has more than doubled within a three-year span. They went from a $190 million industry to a nearly $500 million industry (editor’s note – Mateos’ on-screen presentation placed the exact figure at $460 million). If they follow that projection, it is estimated that they could rival the NBA in revenue in as early as five years.

“What’s awesome is that the DFW area is now considered the second capital of esports in the United States. And with time, we may see DFW become the number one capital for esports, especially with the new stadium in Arlington that they just created.”

Photo Credit: Forbes

Mateos then presented a detailed look at the variety of jobs that are available in the esports industry.

“The jobs that people can get in the esports industry can vary. You can be a professional player. You can be a coach. You can be on the business management side of things. You can do marketing. You can do event management. You can do graphic design, video editing, audio engineering. The opportunities are endless.”

How Can Parents Support a Child That’s Interested in Esports?

Mateos offered four recommendations for parents who want to become more involved with their kids and esports.

Watch Twitch

The first is that parents should head to Twitch, which is the most popular online service for watching and streaming digital video broadcasts. There the parents can find streamers playing their kid’s favorite games, which will help them gain a better understanding of the games’ goals and mechanics.

Go to local events with your kids

There are a variety of esports events throughout the year. In fact, there are so many that one is practically guaranteed to be in your local vicinity.

“Go to your local events with your kids. You can always read articles or watch videos about these events, but you get a real understanding about how much goes into an event when you actually attend one, and you can see everything yourself. That’s one of the great ways to get an understanding of how big this industry really is,” said Mateos.

Start an esports club

While there is an ongoing discussion of sanctioning an official high school and collegiate esports league, it has yet to happen. So, for the time being, all school esports teams are run as clubs as opposed to an official school-sponsored sport.

“Start an esports club at your kid’s local school if they don’t have one,” said Mateos. “Colleges are starting to offer scholarships for esports-related merit. This idea is more common across the seas, but it is actually starting to gain some traction here in the United States as well. If your kids are into the idea of wanting to work in the esports industry, one of the best ways to start working on that resume and getting them real experience is to have an esports club at their school.”

Be supportive

“The best advice that I can give is to be supportive of their interest and treat it as if it were a physical sport,” said Mateos. “If you really want your children to be successful in the esports industry, be supportive of their interest. You can be their catalyst to their success if they have a great support system beneath them. We tend to see that often. The most successful people always come with a very supportive background. And you can help your kids become successful by supporting their interests.”

There are many excellent opportunities in the esports industry. For an even more detailed look at what it takes to succeed in esports, give eGency Global a call at 972-323-6354.