No, I don't have children. So I cannot be the typical parent, neither now nor in the past. Not even an atypical one. I'm not going to write about 'serious games' either. The very label 'serious games' is an interesting and controversial one in game studies. Maybe I'll have the chance to drop some lines on that subject some day (about serious games, not parenthood... well who knows). I would like to draw your attention to how serious video gaming is starting to become. A new dimension to the notion of being a 'player'. A big one.
Have you had the opportunity of watching Valve's film 'Free to play'? I know, there are a lot of comments about the indulgent self-promotion of Dota 2 by the company of the steam relief. Good (or bad!) for them, but they have a point. Video gaming is becoming serious. Serious as in big, important and socially recognised. I may not share their blissfully excessive prognosis on how e-sports will be the new spectacle that will be followed by multitudes, surpassing football, basketball and whatever other massive event - sports or not - you are able to imagine, but there is truth in their elated discourse. Video gaming as a job is incipiently appearing in the horizon. Not only is a video game related job (in the game industry for instance) a real possibility nowadays, but also the very practice of playing video games. And I'm not referring to beta testing, also an important part of the issue, but to the simple fact of being paid for excelling in playing a video game, that is, to be a professional gamer.
Of course, there are different levels in professional gaming careers (yes, we can speak now in terms of having a career in video gaming). The Olympus is, obviously, for the chosen, who are just a few. However there is still space for day labourers of the joystick, the keyboard and the mouse. There are also team managers, commentators, coaches, broadcasters and much more. Even beyond the competitive video gaming scene there are very profitable and interesting opportunities to work playing. You only need to check those Youtube and Twicht channels followed by millions or just a few pals in which there is a guy or a group of guys broadcasting their gameplay while commenting on their everyday life miseries and achievements. Economies based on advertising, subscriptions and donations. Some of them are probably millionaires by now (like PewDiePie or Syndicate), others are just surviving.
If labour is and area that is starting to be colonised by video games, education does not play second fiddle to it. I'm aware that the last years have witnessed an increasing creation and demand of video game design and production courses, grades and masters, as well as the inclusion of programming within schools curricula, but more surprising is the introduction of activities in the schools oriented to encourage children and teenagers to play video games. And, again, not necessarily the so called 'serious games'. Have a look at this, this and this pieces of news. I also encourage you to visit Paul Darvasi's site, an interesting blog on education and video games with some insightful posts on the subject (I specially like the one dedicated to overcoming the stigma of using video games at schools).
There is a moment in Valve's 'Free to play' film that one of the professional gamer's mother starts her sentence saying "I was the typical parent..." followed by a "You're spending too much time playing computer games". She was right. But it was for a reason. He still spends too much time playing video games but she seems not to be a typical parent any more. Or maybe what is typical today is to encourage your children to play.
No more contradiction between work and play, between studying and gaming. No more 'you have to focus on your studies', 'get a job' or 'you should start to think about what you want to do with your life'. They already know. They're on it.
They PLAY hard for the money.