Playing should be considered a sport

From an educational point of view, e-sports

This article looks at esports from an educational perspective. What about problematic content, how much time is required to do esports? He also offers specific tips for parents to deal with the children's hobby.
by Torben Kohring

Violent "sport"?
In particular, the successful team games in e-sports such as Counter-Strike or the Battlefield series have been accused of glorifying violence for years. However, first-person shooters seem to be particularly well suited for multiplayer games. Whether this is due to the presentation, the themes of these games or the highly personalized options for action has to be scientifically investigated further. In principle, games that depict real topics are apparently more interesting for the players than imagined scenarios. This is one way of explaining the popularity of Counter-Strike over other titles in the genre, as it translates the old "robber and gendarme" game into a contemporary context.
However, for these reasons, esports is still struggling with a bad image. Professionally managed leagues such as the ESL (Electronic Sports League) strive to strictly enforce the German youth protection regulations and to introduce control procedures that enable age controls to be carried out on the Internet. Nevertheless, it is easily possible for young players on the Internet to gain access to these leagues with fake data and, due to the structure of the Internet, it will probably never be completely ruled out.
In the event area in particular, the controls are now very strict compared to previous years, and smaller LAN parties are also making increasing efforts to strictly implement the Youth Protection Act. In these events, both the seating areas and the data networks of adults and young people should be separated. This represents a possibility of making it more difficult for young people to access material that is harmful to young people at such events. Nevertheless, it is important that parents think about which LAN party their children want to spend the weekend at and how the organizers handle and implement the protection of minors.
Due to the different international youth protection laws, there are always problems in the organizational area of ​​professional e-sports. At international tournaments, for example, underage players are not allowed to compete in Germany due to the stricter regulations. Exceptions for foreign players are not provided for in the Youth Protection Act.

Organizational structure of e-sports
One of the biggest problems and at the same time greatest strengths of esports is its organizational structure. Children and young people who join traditional clubs have to deal with adults who take over the organization for them. First and foremost, the young people in traditional sports clubs are concerned with practicing their sport. Activities such as court maintenance in tennis are rather rare. Young people rarely come into contact with financial or organizational tasks.
In e-sports it looks different: Here, the young people often take on the entire organization and financing of their activities on the Internet. For example, fixtures and training times must be agreed, sponsors found and a homepage created. All things that take a lot of time. Young people are required to have many skills that are also required in modern professions. Many parents are not aware that their children do a lot of logistical and communicative tasks in addition to the actual computer games, for which project managers in the private sector receive a lot of money.
If, however, the right framework is lost, these pedagogically meaningful activities can quickly turn into a time slot without a bottom. Both in terms of play and organization, many young people often reach their time and stress limits and then often have no adults at their side within the gaming community who can help them with advice and action, as is the case in a traditional club would.

If you want to become a master, you practice early
As in any other activity, the only way to mastery in e-sports is through practice. A pre-programmed conflict in many families. Parents should get an explanation of which times are used for training in the team and official games. A distinction here serves both sides: the young people feel that their hobby is taken seriously, the adults can also use arguments to better influence the playing times of their children.
Even in e-sports, however much time can be spent without a certain talent, a certain performance limit can then no longer be exceeded. "After all, I want to become a professional," many parents have probably heard when referring to computer games. You are in a bind here. Since the children's capabilities in this area often cannot really be overlooked, it is important to trust the child or to take corrective action. As in any other area, involvement in e-sports must not be at the expense of all other activities; here it is important to make clear agreements with the young people. Parents should let their children explain to them what tasks they perform for their play community, at what times their clan trains and what their goals are. E-sports careers such as that of the Bell Bunny brothers, who became world champions in the game of Fifa, would certainly not have been possible without a certain basic understanding and the support of their parents. Instead of turning computer games into a conflict, it is about showing oneself open to the children's hobby and thereby gaining access to the young people. Why should young people be open to the alternatives offered when they are always portrayed as "the better" and their fascinating hobby as "the bad".

In addition, Internet games in the team also encourage social skills. Lasting success in almost no team sport can only be ensured with good individual players. Young people also learn to deal verbally with their fellow players and opponents in multiplayer games, to keep agreements and to fill certain roles within a community. These roles can have very positive value for the development of young people. However, if they reduce the roles too much in real life, this can also have an adverse effect.
In many cases, the other players on the Internet are schoolmates or real friends. Then there is apparently only a transfer of the existing social relationships to the Internet. Parents should therefore be aware of who their children are playing with on the Internet.

Young meets old
As almost everywhere on the Internet, children and adolescents also move in e-sports in an area in which they come into contact with adults on a variety of levels. Whether they are members of the team, sponsors or organizers of competitions, adults often sit in the important positions of esports. On the one hand, this circumstance can be understood as an opportunity from a pedagogical point of view: Young people have the chance to deal with organization and forms of communication in a very playful environment. They are active in areas that are withheld from conventional clubs.
On the other hand, adolescents can be overwhelmed by this condition. What still has a playful character quickly becomes serious through the demands of fellow players. External pressure quickly develops into an internal one in young people. E-sport then takes on a meaning that other hobbies and activities such as school have to take second. Here parents and teachers are asked to intervene as a corrective.
The very open interaction between younger and older players can lead to young people, both inside and outside of the game, coming into contact with a world of experience that is not appropriate for their age. In addition to an often very sharp tone within the games, the conversations in the clan's chat channel often contain adult topics. Parents should be aware of this fact.
This coexistence of adolescents and adults naturally offers unmistakably positive effects. The younger players benefit from the life experience of the adults and they must make an effort to keep up with the younger players. It is often amazing how harmoniously players of different ages, social backgrounds and genders interact with one another in team-based games.
However, many e-sports are designed to be responsive. This is why there are few players between the ages of 25 and 30 in professional gaming. For many adults it is a bad realization that there are apparently age limits in this area of ​​performance as well. However, this thesis can only really be verified when a large number of players have reached the age of over 30 and are still active in e-sports.

There are also a few aids parents can use when dealing with young e-athletes:

- Play together with the child and take part in the experiences they have had in the game. Show interest. This is the only way to get a differentiated picture of your child's play behavior. Let us explain to you what your child is doing in the game, what is important in the game and, if necessary, play the game yourself.

- Set fixed playing times and duration. It is recommended to organize this in such a way that a duration of 1.5 hours is not exceeded and that there are always computer game-free days between the days.

- Establish rules for overall media consumption. Wrong would be z. B. Allow 1.5 hours of computer games and 1.5 hours of television per day. It is better to let the child divide their time on the computer and on the television independently into 1.5 hours.

- Offer your child alternative ways to have a sense of achievement. These could be: sports, music or other hobbies that have nothing to do with the computer.

- Make sure the games are suitable for your child's age. Note the USK mark on the game packaging.

- Find out more, e.g. B. on the game guide-nrw or in the specialty shop, about the content of the games. The USK markings serve to protect children from harm to young people. However, they do not contain any information about the educational suitability of games.

- Make sure that your child does not play any games that they have not discussed with you beforehand, especially if you do not have any information on the age ratings and the content of the game.