Why I Am Passionate About Esports

This video isn't even that great, but watching it one night drove me into a sob fest the likes of which my tear ducts had not seen in a long time.

All my life I've played video games and for me it has always been a struggle. I was self-conscious about it for so long. My gamer friends today don't know this about me, but in high school I always hid what I did in my spare time from my "IRL friends" (the people who I'd see every day in class in high school). Many of those friends to this day don't know how invested I was into video games and esports. I felt ashamed... I was raised to believe that video games were a waste of time, that I was addicted and it was hurting me socially, academically, etc... My parents wanted me to be happy and choose my own path so they generally would let me play, but there were often struggles between us that made me feel unsure about my decisions.

Video games felt real. The friendships I made through them felt real. The satisfaction I got from winning and improving felt real. The camaraderie and competitions back when I played in gold capped tournaments all felt real... But my parents never really approved of any of it, so I remained secretive and defensive of my gaming. Conflicted. Worried I'd be shunned from my friend groups in late high school and early college if they knew how much I played. I felt I had to justify anything and everything regarding gaming, and for so long I never said a thing. Even the girl I dated in high school for about 2 years hardly knew about my investment into gaming, if that paints you a better picture.

After starting to put on tournaments, I slowly tested the waters and mentioned it to some of those "IRL" friends. They were surprised but thought it was cool, for the firs time I didn't feel like I had to defend myself. They'd even ask a few questions and show interest. It felt wonderful to talk about, even just a bit, my passion for gaming. Esports had started to become more mainstream, tournaments and the industry were/are growing, opportunities appearing, and I finally started to tell my parents about it. Nowadays they think it is cool what I'm doing and have been supportive and I don't blame them for what I went through during those years. They were only doing what they thought was right and never went as far to deny me video games entirely. I love who I am, and I wouldn't be that person without them, so for that I will always be grateful. But the internal conflict I went through is something I hope I can help people avoid in the future.

Watching the linked video and how it compared the views on video games in 2015 compared to how the views today drove my to tears because of exactly that. The time I spent on esports felt justified. I felt affirmed. I felt acknowledged. I want to grow esports at all costs. Not to stick it to those who have looked down on it all this time, but to show them that esports aren't as pointless as they once thought. Not something to be mocked, something to be acknowledged. I want to build a career in esports and help pave the way for kids and others who have a passion for gaming. To smooth the path to esports opportunities. The industry is still growing, but it is up to people like you and me to guide esports in a positive direction. Into something players can feel proud to be good at in highschool or at any point in their lives. I hope to bring that same feeling of affirmation and recognition to people who are passionate about esports as well, but have always had their passion looked down upon.

Thank you so much to all those who showed and continue to show me friendship in the gaming community.

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Jack "JackLovesLamp" Counts

-GetRECt Co-Founder and CEO