Q: “My Son Wants to Play Video Games for a Living.”
“Your child needs to understand that not everyone can make it big in the world of gaming (and it takes a lot of work to do so), and that life should still go on outside of gaming. Your child should not drop everything to be a streamer or a professional gamer, especially at the expense of their physical and mental health.”
Q: “My son loves to play video games (which I’m not too thrilled about) and is adamant about wanting to do this for a living. Is this a viable path? And won’t playing video games all the time be bad for his health and possibly lead to gaming addiction?”
You are not alone in your concerns about video games. For a very small portion of players, gaming can become a serious problem. But for most gamers — and I’m assuming this is the case for your son — gaming serves as a healthy outlet.
There’s recreational gaming, and then there is making a living out of gaming. Your son is one of many, many kids and teens (and young adults) today who love to play video games and want to make a career out of it. Though it’s an emerging field, it’s a path to approach with caution.
One way to make a living playing games is through Esports — the world of organized professional gaming. Internationally, there are numerous Esports leagues and pro teams. Currently, about 57 video game titles have organizations through which professional gamers can compete and play — sometimes for lots of money. The International, for example, is an annual Esports world championship tournament for the multiplayer game Dota 2. In the 2021 world championship, the prize pool was more than $40 million. As with traditional sports, Esports tournaments take place in physical arenas and host spectators.
Streaming (i.e., broadcasting game play in real time for others to watch) is another way to make money playing video games. Like other online content creators and personalities, streamers can develop a following. A critical mass of followers can translate to subscriptions and other revenue opportunities for the player. Twitch is the most popular platform for video-game streaming.
With more than 18 million followers, Richard Tyler Blevins, better known as “Ninja,” is today’s most followed streamer on the platform. He’s made a lucrative career playing Fortnite and other video games, earning an estimated $17 million in 2019 from subscriptions, sponsorships, and other sources.1 Game developers are known to pay popular streamers like him $50,000 an hour to play their newly released video games.2
For all his success in the field, including his time professionally competing in video game tournaments, Blevins did not, as he says, “drop everything” to pursue his current career.
“I maintained my job…and I stayed in college while I was doing all of these things,” Blevins said in a 2018 interview with CNBC. “I continued to do well in school and focus on the future of my life.” He noted that, growing up, he would be rewarded with video game time so long as he put in the time and effort in school and other activities, like soccer.
Blevins said reaching his level of fame was not easy. “It’s also becoming a very competitive career choice right now,” he said. “You want to make sure that you’re securing your future and putting in the extra time to try to make this happen as well.”
I share this information to help you frame your child’s aspirations and your family’s conversations around a career in gaming. Instead of thinking “my child’s life is doomed,” I would encourage you to think, “You know what? This could be a reality, but let’s be smart about it.”
Your child needs to understand that not everyone can make it big in the world of gaming (and it takes a lot of work to do so), and that life should still go on outside of it. Your child should not drop everything to be a streamer or a professional gamer, especially at the expense of their physical and mental health. I’d encourage your child to check out Blevins’ interview to hear it directly from someone in the field.
Professional Gamer Ambitions: Next Steps
- Read: ADHD and Video Games — Is Your Child Hooked?
- Read: Why Do Kids with ADHD Get Hooked on Fortnite?
- Read: An “Ethics Manual” for Your Teen’s Electronics
- Read: “What Should I Be When I Grow Up?”
The content for this article was derived, in part, from the ADDitude ADHD Experts webinar titled, “Addictive Technology and Its Impact on Teen Brains” [Video Replay & Podcast #451] with Jeremy Edge, LPC, IGDC, which was broadcast on April 19, 2023.
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View Article Sources
1 Perez, M. (2020) Top-earning video gamers: the ten highest-paid players pocketed more than $120 million in 2019. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/mattperez/2020/01/29/top-earning-video-gamers-the-ten-highest-paid-players-pocketed-more-than-120-million-in-2019/
2 Needlemann, S. (2019) Top ‘live-streamers’ get $50,000 an hour to play new videogames online. Wall Street Journal. https://www.wsj.com/articles/top-live-streamers-get-50-000-an-hour-to-play-new-videogames-online-11558184421