At some point I realized the kids I liked most are the hard-core gamers. I encouraged my kids to carve out time each day to take gaming seriously. One of the things I’m most proud of in our homeschooling is that my kids play League of Legends. This game is similar to chess if you played it while trying to not get shot by your opponent’s teammates. In a world where hard-core gamers are faster learners and have stronger brains, League caters to the cream of the crop.

Some perspective: there are 130 million active Minecraft accounts and there are 180 million active League accounts. Each year my kids pause their lives to watch League world championships and I hear nonstop talk of strategy and preparation. Which makes me love League players even more.

Here’s what I’ve learned.

The grit and determination is amazing. My kids play League. There are thousands of videos suggesting workouts for improving small-twitch speed, drills to improve muscle memory, and mental tactics for increasing your knowledge of the details of the game. There are thousands of videos discussing the need for mindfulness and emotional control when you are losing — or even winning — so you don’t undermine all that physical practice with a weak mental game.

Teamwork skills are at the level of life or death. The creators of the game constantly adjust the details so players always have to be good at working with a team. There is no way to climb to the top if you can’t contribute to the wellbeing of your teammates. My kids talk all about the players who can’t go pro because they have amazing skills but they are unreliable in team play.

The rules select for intelligent, socially smart, self-disciplined kids. League requires social skills, a good mind for complex strategy and an ability to play the same amount each week so that you keep up with the changes in the game. Additionally, you can check out your life stats, and the life stats of your opponents in realtime, so you need to be able to quickly analyze a huge set of data.

If I could choose, my kids would be pro gamers. They are not gifted enough in small-twitch speed. But maybe this will make you be a little more encouraging of that small-twitch titan living in your home.

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1 reply
  1. Bostonian
    Bostonian says:

    As usual, I disagree with your conclusions: I’d rather my son were not a pro gamer. I like to think of my kids bringing something useful or beautiful into the world. Gaming is fundamentally just consumption.

    That said, I agree that getting really good at competitive games takes an incredible amount of work, planning, and focus. My son was climbing up the leagues in StarCraft II for a while, and he asked me for a bigger white board: he needed more space to draw out attack and defense strategies. I got him the biggest one I could wrestle up the stairs, and he filled it with planning. He also started taking better care of his body; peak focus only comes with physical wellness.

    The skills required to compete in these games are definitely transferable to more useful pursuits.

    Reply

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