Can Your Kid Have a Career in Video Games?

Many parents have heard their kids tell them that they want to be a video  game developer or a professional video game player. Can kids actually have a career in video games? Is it possible to make money just by playing games? Absolutely! However, finding work in the video-game industry requires exceptional gaming skills or an affinity for programming, design, or art. But even for those who may not make a career from their love of video games, there are many opportunities to earn money and fame from their passion for gaming.

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For example, many teenagers and college students have their own YouTube channels, with thousands of subscribers who watch their “Let’s Play” videos. For those of you who don’t know, “Let’s Play” videos demonstrate gameplay and strategy and feature level walkthroughs, often with funny commentary. Through advertising, some young people are making upwards of $1000 a month simply by capturing videos while playing their favorite games. Many of the most successful “Let’s Plays” are funny, engaging, and produced by gamers who understand how to reach their audience. Not only are they having fun playing video games, but they are also learning useful marketing and social skills. As interest in  professional video gaming increases, we can expect many new educational and employment opportunities to emerge, similar to what we have observed in the world of extreme sports, where clothing, coaching, media, and commercial opportunities abound.

One example of a successful gamer/businessman is 22 year-old Matt Haag. A recent New York Times article reported that Haag can make nearly $1 million a year playing video games. He is the number one player on Major League Gaming TV, a site where people watch and play video games live. The story reveals Haag’s strict training regimen which includes regular exercise, yoga, and nutritional strategies. He eats high protein pancakes and uses ingredients such as flaxseed oil and chia seeds in his regular diet. Haag also spends many hours a day practicing and improving his game skills and optimizing strategies in front of camera. His live stream has attracted over 1.5 million total views, essentially turning his bedroom into a world stage.

Haag earned approximately $700,000 from live streaming and ads from  his YouTube channel in 2014. Thousands of young people spend their afternoons and evenings watching his live gameplay or Let’s Play videos produced for YouTube. And it’s not just Haag, there are many other gamers who make a living in a similar way. In Haag’s case, many viewers watch him not just for his video-game expertise but also because of his personality. The New York Times article describes him as candid, revealing, honest, and able to connect readily with his viewers.

Entering the business world of gaming can be quite simple. Elementary school kids are more than capable of creating their own Let’s Play videos and posting them to YouTube. They can even enter a video game competition, where the only requirements are that they can play the game, have Internet access, and post the entry fee. Many of the larger competitions have preliminary rounds that allow novices to enter with a fee, ensuring that both the promoters and the winners of these contests will generate income.

Unquestionably, there will be an increasing number of careers related to video games in the near future. Even if your child does not have the desire to become a competitive gamer, he might develop the skills to create videos, learn about marketing, or become an expert in the hardware and software that will rule the future. So the next time your child informs you that he wants to play video games for a living, tell him to keep his options open, but don’t be too quick to squash his enthusiasm.

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