Ever since PacMan was invented, video games have been a thing. From using up all your 20-cent coins on arcade games like Pong and Zelda, to holing yourself you in your room to play Fortnite with your mates, video games are an increasingly popular activity for kids to develop their skills and build community and connection. And, y’know, chomp as many cherries as you can before a ghost gets you.
But there’s another phenomenon that’s entered the ring. eSports, aka competitive gaming. What is it, how does it work, and what do you – as a parent – need to know about it?
Let’s take a deep dive into eSports.
First up, what are eSports?
In a nutshell? Competitive, organised gaming played between individuals and teams, with the winner getting a prize – usually cash. Any multiplayer game can become an eSport, but sports, strategy and battle games are the most popular. For a game to make it as an eSport, it needs to be fun and engaging for both the player and the viewer.
Why am I hearing so much about them??
In recent years, eSports have become big business. While players can stream their games from home online, there’s a professional circuit where gamers play to packed arenas, often in front of thousands of fans. These games are also live streamed to millions of viewers through services like Twitch and YouTube’s gaming site.
Professional players are contracted in the same way a pro-sportsperson would be, and are often sponsored by games developers and manufacturers. Once a player is on the pro circuit, they can expect to be paid big bucks.
How do you get involved?
Many popular games have a tournament system built into the interface, so that’s the first step. Once you start building your skills and winning (a lot), players are eligible to apply for open qualifiers.
What sort of equipment do you need?
Some games are console based, so you’ll be able to play if you’ve got a PS4 or Xbox One. Otherwise you’ll need to be kitted out with quite a bit (and you’ll need to spend a solid chunk of cash to get set up). You’re looking at a powerful PC, a big monitor, and a headset. You might also need custom keyboards, different mice and specific games controllers. Oh, and you’ll need a really fast internet connection, too.
Are eSports bad for kids?
Yes and no.
Firstly, to actually make it on the eSports scene, you need to practice. A lot.
Playing too many video games can have a number of downsides – many games put the player in such a sense of flow that they don’t notice time passing, so forget to eat, drink water, and move their bodies. But on the plus side, eSports don’t have as many physical risks as contact sports. Some games also help players improve their focus and strategy, which can be beneficial in real life.
It’s important that all screen time is balanced. Make sure you break up your child’s day with plenty of time for movement, nutrition, hydration, and fresh air.
Whether you’re encouraging a future eSports superstar or prefer the occasional Mario Kart family challenge, you’re going to need a good internet connection. Check out our range of awesome plans here.