A dad watching a football game looks at his son watching a Twitch stream and says, "I don't get it, why are you watching people play games?"
For the typical parent, their kid's hobby of watching games doesn't make sense. But for kids across the world, games are more than a past time, it's the bedrock of their social landscape. I grew up in the eighties and nineties. Sure I played games, but I would say that sports or my bike held this position in my life. Even though I wasn't a gamer, I became a game developer and a professor at a game development program. I believe that experience and the relationship I have with gamers help me to understand and see the opportunity...no, the need for a youth esports league. I work for an investment firm and so I find myself surrounded by projects. I love the work I do, but I tend to get wrapped up in it resulting in less time with my family. Gamer League, a family project with a goal to build a Little League of video games, is the new conversation at the dinner table and family gathers. So without further ado, here are my top reasons why I think we need a youth esports league.
Esports opens the door to another opportunity to work hard in a team.
- Huge Opportunity. With colleges getting in the game (pun intended), I believe that there will be many opportunities for scholarships in the future. I didn't forget the fact that Epic is offering huge sums of prizes for Fortnite, but this is a youth development effort, and teaching kids to go for this prize plays on their emotions and naivate and is probably an goal more suitable for when they are older. Still, there are lots of opportunities on the rise for those working hard in esports.
- Not All Kids Are Made For Sports. Let's face it, as our kids grow up, their sport interests get more specialized and competitive. Some kids may not find their way in sports. Still, teamwork, sportsmanship, and group dynamics are important lessons that some of these kids may not learn if not on a team. Esports opens the door to another opportunity to work hard in a team.
- Girls In Tech. I've worked in technology for quite some time. It's incredibly male dominated. By the time girls are in high school, they associate tech and games and boys -they don't feel they belong. Starting younger, girls may build a better relationship with technology (development in this case) and their gender, especially if they can beat up on some boys in Super Smash Brothers.
- Relationships With Parents. Right now, parents tend to shame their kids about their game play. While I too agree that there should be limits on play time, playing with your kids can be a bonding experience they can use to relate with you. We'll have met our goal with the esports league when we have parents cheering in bleachers for their kids.
- Establish Positive Gaming Culture. I've met a lot of positive communities online. Still, there are some bad apples out there. By starting early, we hope that positive gaming culture can flourish.
- Non-Gamer Activities. By bringing together gamers, they also have a social network for balancing game play with other activities. It's hard to have a playdate at the park when your online friend is a plane ride away.
- Group Rules. I'm a fan of following ESRB ratings (no, we don't follow it to a tee) and play limits of 90 minutes on weekdays with a little extra time on weekends. Kids need balance and the best and worst part of games are how compelling they are -it makes everything else boring. Alas, they still need exposure to different experiences and exercise and play limits make that happen. They whine and say things like, "everyone plays Fortnite" or "So and so doesn't have play limits". By establishing a culture with some guidelines, it's easier for parents to stick to their guns.
Why We Need A Little League for Esports