Video gaming has grown up

Members of Phong Vu Buffalo battle against Vega Squadron during the League of Legends (LOL) Mid...
Members of Phong Vu Buffalo battle against Vega Squadron during the League of Legends (LOL) Mid-Season Invitional, in GG Stadium, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. Photo: Reuters
Whatever your feelings about "computer games", playing competitive esports requires some of the same skills as traditional codes, writes Ian Munro.

Ian Munro
Ian Munro
I ended last week's column with a somewhat facetious remark about parents training to become Fortnite coaches.

I was quite rightly chided by one reader for mocking parents who might be supporting their offspring in their chosen sport. Would I do the same if the sport had been tennis or competitive horse-riding?

Video gaming has grown up and, in the past few years, has become a truly international sport. Esports, as they're called, are more than gaming, which has been likened to kicking the ball around at the end of the day. They have become official school sports in the United States and students can win sporting scholarships to university.

Here we have the NZ Esports Federation looking after the interest of esports, billing itself as "the home of the eBlacks" and supporting a New Zealand high school esports league.

The top professional Kiwi player, Sean Kaiwai, is reported by the Esports Earnings website as having earned $60,565 from gaming since 2016, including more than $21,000 so far this year, while the top five players have earned well over $216,000 between them.

So there is money to be made professionally and, like training for any sport at the upper levels, there is a cost.

The ability to train at home in the bedroom can be both convenient and worrying. No taxiing around town is the good news, but that can also be worrying if you fear seeing less of your youngster than you'd like, worry about them being less obviously social with their peers, not getting enough sleep, being too sedentary and being overexposed to violence. And lots of screen time isn't great for kids.

You may have read of the sport-related injuries suffered by elite players, including carpal tunnel syndrome, repetitive strain injury, back pain and even collapsed lungs from breath-holding during intense moments in a game.

However, rigorous training regimes and sporting injuries are par for the course for any elite sport. The key is to manage the training to minimise the negative impacts.

You might want to set clear guidelines for device-free times and ensure their physical and mental health needs are looked after by making sure:

• They have an ergonomic computer setup;

• They're putting aside time to go to the gym, go for a run, or exercise in other ways;

• They're eating and drinking well;

• They're doing their chores and homework; and

• They're speaking to real people face-to-face.

Whatever your feelings about "computer games", playing competitive esports requires some of the same skills as traditional sports, such as thinking strategically, learning to work in a team and putting in strong individual effort.

It mightn't be athletic in the traditional sense, but it does require the same sort of dedication and training as any other competitive enterprise.

Go the eBlacks!

 

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