My Child Wants to be a Professional Gamer
Nothing can prepare you for when your child starts growing up and making their own decisions. While it may have been only mildly annoying to always give them the red cup instead of the yellow one when they were toddlers, it can become a little frightening when your child comes up to you and says they want to become a professional gamer. All kinds of thoughts race through your head about their safety, security, and sanity. You may recall a friend in junior high who wanted to play professional ball and spent every recess practicing, but never turned in their homework. The knee jerk reaction for many parents is to blow it off as a wild idea that could never and should never happen, but what if it isn’t?
When we were growing up the path to a career was pretty clear and linear. Graduate high school, choose either to learn a trade or go to college or to go straight into the workforce. Regardless of which path you chose it seemed like a pretty cut and dry operation, grow up and then begin your professional life. Things have changed a ton, and many more children are seeing an option of starting their career now, as a professional gamer. While the whole concept may sound borderline wacky, it’s really not. Here’s what you need to know and how to live your best life as a parent of an aspiring pro-gamer.
There are multiple paths to make money through professional gaming. The most straightforward way is to make money from winning gaming competitions. However, this requires your child to hit the trifecta of being interested in a game that has competitions, being able and eligible to enter those competitions, and then being good enough to win. While competitive gaming is increasing in popularity, it can be hard to break-in and succeed. E-sports and other types of tournaments may not be available in your area and the amount of time it takes to gain advantage and keep it may be unrealistic for many children when trying to balance with school and other obligations.
If you can’t commit to becoming the best of the best in a game, there’s still another way. Many gamers make millions of dollars a year just playing games on Twitch and YouTube, and while you don’t need to be super great at gaming on this path, it helps if you have a charismatic personality and time to devote to curating an audience. It definitely isn’t as easy as just setting up an account and streaming videos of you playing games. You’ll need to network and find some people who can help you get into the community, and then it’s all on you to gain and keep your followers.
All about that money
Gaming money is mostly made through tips and donations, so just playing games and being entertaining isn’t enough, your child may find the need to set up accounts to receive money and since they are not an adult your name will need to go on those accounts and to keep your money from becoming commingled you will want to open a joint account with your child on it. All transactions, incoming and outgoing need to be tracked. If your child makes enough money there may be tax consequences, so make sure you’re keeping an eye on the finances. Many a YouTube gamer has been caught up in tax troubles and other drama due to not treating gaming as a business and taking all the care that they should have.
While the fantasy is earning millions of dollars doing what you love, the reality is often more complicated. Becoming a popular gamer and making money isn’t always easy, and it’s important to remain true to yourself. While your child may see people succeeding by being edgy or controversial, it’s important to note that anything that’s put on the internet is there forever and in today’s increasingly digital world, anything you say, do, or post can and will be brought up later to bite you. While cyber-bullying is never your child’s fault it’s important to let them know that it is almost inevitable. Police often can’t or won’t do anything about threats made online, so make sure you up your cyber security and your child masks their real name, location, and other sensitive information. Make sure you talk to your child about your values and why they are important and what to do if they find themselves in a situation that is uncomfortable.
Keeping it real
It is important to walk the line between supportive and realistic. While you may not fully understand the appeal of being a professional gamer and maybe you don’t even want that for your child, there’s little harm in letting them try it out. While you want to be supportive it’s also important to impose fair boundaries. Being on the game system or computer for hours on end isn’t good for anyone, and can lead to problems socially and emotionally for some. Make sure that you find a good balance with your child between screen time, family time, school time, and other important parts of their life. Discuss with them their goals and your expectations and arrive at a compromise that you can both agree on, and then keep lines of communication open for changes to your chosen routine.
Remember that you don’t have to commit forever, and you can retrace your steps back to before if you need to. Many parents find that working out a set of milestones and goals can be a helpful way to gauge how things are going. Keep an eye on grades, friendships, and family relationships to make sure nothing is suffering, but give them some time to make it or not and be clear about your support level. While it may not be wise to jump in with both feet, it can be okay to wade in a bit and see how the water is. Let your child know what the rules are from the beginning and enforce them fairly, and you’ll both learn something whether they become a professional gamer or not.