You want to be a gamer when you grow up?

A teacher’s perspective.

Jan 5, 2019

Have you ever heard of Ninja? Most of my eleven-year-old students have. He’s a professional gamer who streams on a platform called Twitch. That’s right. Ninja gets paid to play video games for upwards of ten hours a day. It’s a sweet gig if you like video games, and it’s a career a lot of my middle school aged students would love to pursue.

But wait…video games? Really?

I understand that teachers are currently equipping students for careers of the future that may not exist yet, but come on…you can’t convince me that I’m preparing students to play video games for the rest of their working lives, can you?

To put my cards on the table, in full honesty, I can admit that I’m completely torn on whether a gamer is an occupation I would suggest to my eleven-year-old students…but why?

To be honest, again, I don’t have all the answers, but I do have a myriad of thoughts and questions. I’ll explain my thinking in the following four parts.

Doesn’t 10 hours of video games a day waste your life?

Yes. I can say without shame that I think it does.

I would say that with confidence to my students and would still say it with confidence now. A lot of my thoughts on this topic are encompassed in Tim Cavey’s gaming post and I suggest you read it.

That said, I do play video games occasionally and I often enjoy them. Why does the copious time bother me? It’s probably because I personally believe most everything in our lives needs to be done in moderation.

Gaming, shopping, netflix-ing, reading, you name it.

Moderate it.

Take breaks.

Find time for other people and find time for other things.

However, with a person like Ninja, It is his job to play video games for hours a day. How can you moderate your mandated working life? It is almost like telling someone to work fewer hours when they need the income.

Would I tell someone to moderate how their job is structured? I work (at least) for seven hours a day. It’s my career that I’m required to do, otherwise, I’m out of a job.

What is the difference with a person whose occupation is to stream video games?

If people buy it, you can sell it…right?

Doesn’t Capitalism allow for almost any vendor to earn money if consumers and sponsors are willing to support it?

Apparently, there is a market for professional gamers to stream on the internet. It beats me as to why, but more surising things have happened in the 2010s.

Viewers are willing to donate money to support their favourite gamers. In addition, viewers will purchase merchandise with their favourite gamer’s designs, also in support of their gaming channel. Finally, sponsors will get behind certain gamers because they know they have the viewers that will potentially engage with a sponsorship product.

The open market allows for this. Does that mean I can’t complain? I support different creators on Youtube by watching their videos or purchasing merchandise. Why does it seem so different for me when there are video games involved?

Good at video games or good at life skills?

To be a professional gamer, yes, you do need to be talented at video games. However, I do recognize that a gamer who streams their content on the internet must be more than just talented.

Successful streamers need to be articulate, social, business savvy, humorous, creative, and more.

I recognize that streaming is so much more than video game talent.

These life skills permeate other areas of life. They aren’t exclusive to gaming.

In British Columbia, the province I teach in, teachers integrate the following core competencies. They’re life skills that are taught from Kindergarten all the way to grade twelve:

  1. Communication

  2. Critical & Creative Thinking

  3. Personal & Social Responsibility

These are skills needed in any career, but specific to this article, they are necessary for a professional gaming career.

To land sponsorships, you need to communicate properly.

To create personalized merchandise, you need creative thinking.

To keep a schedule for streaming, you need personal responsibility.

We teach these skills. We are teaching compatible for a gaming career.

Wait…so do you approve of a gaming career?

Uhh…no. I wouldn’t say that I do, but that is only my personal preference.

However, preferences aside, I can’t stop my students from dreaming for who they want to be when they are older.

So here is my response:

You want to become a gamer when you grow up? Then practice your professional gaming skills, like professional communication, elaborate creative thinking, undeviating personal responsibility, and more.

Honing these core competencies is something I can support wholeheartedly.

Happy gaming students!