Esports is a relatively new phenomenon that became firmly established in the early 2000s. It is about individuals or teams competing against each other in computer or video games. Some of the biggest games are League of Legends, Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Hearthstone, and StarCraft II.
One of the world’s largest esports tournaments is the Dota 2 International contest, whose finals in 2015 had 4.6 million viewers and a prize pool of almost $18.5 million. Esports is also one of the fastest-growing sports in the world. It is now a natural part of the lives of many young people, where they spend a lot of time playing games and on the social platforms where they are discussed. Despite their enormous popularity, parents can often find it difficult to understand how the games work or what the attraction is.
This document strives to support esports to build positive norms and to help fulfill the great potential that exists for it to be an inclusive space. The structure of esports is somewhat unique, in that people from very different backgrounds have the opportunity to participate, to a much greater extent than other sports. One of the challenges facing esports is the lack of support structures, such as a parental presence. It is much more difficult for a young sport to build positive frameworks without help from the adult world, so it is therefore important that you as parents get involved in your child’s esports interest. Here are some practical tips on how you as a parent can increase your knowledge of esports and support your children:
As a parent, it can sometimes be difficult to come across as vulnerable or lacking in knowledge. Most of us expect to be able to answer most of the questions our child asks. It might even feel frustrating that we do not understand much of the child’s main interest. The solution may sound simple – ask questions! Genuinely curious questions will often go a long way towards deepening your understanding. Many young people are more than willing to talk about their last game, or the character they play at the moment, but few get the chance to talk about it with a parent who really engages with them. Dare to give them the time and attention to share their world with you – the payback is truly worth it!
Do Your Research
There are many resources online that can help you understand what is esports and why it is important to support your child. Coalition Of Parents in Esports (COPE) is a great platform that helps parents understand and provided tips on how to get involved in their child’s hobbies or career aspirations. Parents’ support is crucial in esports as it is in any other activity. COPE helps by raising awareness on the educational benefits related to esports like career paths, college, and scholarship opportunities.
Show that you Value their Interest
Previously the primary meeting points for young people were physical locations, such as the local recreation center, but nowadays a lot of social interaction has moved to online environments. Games and social media are genuinely important for young people’s social interaction and the building of self-esteem. There are many opinions on this development, but the fact remains – digital social interaction is important to adolescents and esports is an example of this. As a parent, you need to show that you value the interest and the time your child spends on esports, the same way as you encourage and value other hobbies. Doing so is a prerequisite for being able to talk about esports in a constructive way – if you do so, your children will talk to you about things that happened in the game environment, both positive and negative, in a natural way.
Learn the Basics of the Game
You do not need to be an expert on your child’s game, but a basic knowledge of it will help your communication with them immensely. A common example of a conflict surrounding the game is mealtimes. Matches vary in time, but they can often take 45 minutes or longer. If a parent knows roughly how long the games are, it becomes easier to set the deadline for when the last game before dinner will start. Of course, everyday life cannot only be guided by the game but having to leave in the middle of a game in League of Legends is comparable to being taken from a football match before it is finished. A player who leaves before the end of the game also suffers a penalty, such as a temporary suspension. It also causes problems for the team – it is very difficult to win a game with too few players. Compare that situation with a basketball team that has to play a full game with only four players on the court.
For some parents, it might sound far-fetched to sit down at the computer or TV and engage in esports with their child. It may seem complicated or difficult. But in reality, it is no different than playing football or reading a book with them. The energy you put into mastering the game will be repaid many times over when you share your child’s favorite interests, and when you together experience all the emotions that esports creates. As a bonus, you increase your knowledge of the game, which makes it much more likely that your child will spontaneously bring up the events in and around the games – they know that you already understand.
Go to a LAN Party
Take your kids, or go yourself. To be at a Local Area Network Party, where people get together over a weekend to play games, as a curious onlooker or even as a participant, will go a long way to enhancing your understanding of esports. It will give you a chance to meet everyone involved in esports, from the organizers to the players, fans, and commentators. There is no better way to get an overview of what esports is all about.
Get Involved in Esports Events
View the LAN party or tournament like any other sporting event! You’ve probably driven your children to practice for other sports, or sold hot dogs or coffee when they played a game – why should esports be different? So help out by carrying chairs at the LAN party, by carrying computers, or by going with them to a tournament in another town. Parental presence in esports is extremely important when it comes to creating positive norms!
Contact Clubs and Federations
A good way to ensure that your children get the most out of esports is to contact a club or federation that conducts esports activities. There are a lot of associations that organize weekly online and physical events. Being part of a club or federation gives your child a chance to meet others to play with, helps them develop their skills, and, perhaps most importantly, teaches them about the democratic nature of clubs and federations.