If you think video games are derailing your child’s future, you might want to think again. As odd as it sounds, video gamers are the latest hot commodity from high school and collegiate amateur competitions to the professional ranks where top players routinely earn six figures in salary and prize purses, plus millions more in endorsement deals and commercials.
You read that correctly. Armed with Kinetic gig for gamers, a gaming console and practice – lots and lots of practice – the best gamers in the world are becoming household names to kids in the same way their parents might have idolized an NFL quarterback or record-breaking Olympic sprinter.
Inside Higher Ed reported in 2019 that esports have gone from the villain of the sports world – blamed for a sedentary lifestyle among youth and a decline in athletics participation – to its darling almost overnight. The National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE), the leading governing body for esports, has grown to 128 collegiate members, up from six colleges and universities in 2016. Those members handed out $15 million in scholarships to esport gamers and is growing so fast it’s started discussions within the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) as to who should govern the sport.
As if that weren’t enough legitimacy, the International Olympic Committee announced a sanctioned esports event ahead of the 2021 Summer Games in Tokyo and serious discussions have been ongoing for some time about esports becoming a demonstration sport, perhaps as soon as the 2024 Summer Games in Paris. Competitive video gaming has already been announced as a medal event at the 2022 Asian Games, set for Hangzhou, China.
If that’s not enough to blow your mind, check out the professional ranks where the world’s top gamers are making as much or more as athletes in traditional pro sports. In January 2020, Forbes reported the 10 highest-paid players took home more than $120 million. The list was led by Tyler “Ninja” Blevins ($17 million in 2019) who is shaping up to do for esports what Tony Hawk did for skateboarding, going beyond competition earning to building a personal brand. Blevins earned the vast majority of his money that year in endorsement deals with Red Bull, Adidas, Microsoft and other companies looking to get a stranglehold on the millennial market.
So, the next time you find yourself shouting for your kids to put away the video games and get serious about a career, consider they may be doing just that.