My sixteen-year-old, Kevin, is really into video games and he is drawn to one called Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO). While I’m not thrilled with him playing a first-person shooter game, I have reluctantly come to realize my son is old enough to choose the kind of recreation he wants to take part in as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone or land him in jail.
Recently, Kevin told me he wants to put together videos of himself playing CS: GO and post them on YouTube. Now you have to understand where I’m coming from: I’m almost old enough to qualify for senior discounts at the Goodwill, so when I was a child, there were no computers in the house. People talked on a rotary dialed landline and the Atari video game “Pong” was making its debut when I was ten. Yes, this makes me feel ancient, and technology is not my strong suit.
I don’t text and I own a TracFone that isn’t even a smart-phone. I use it to make and receive calls from my family and I purchase pre-paid minutes for $19.99 in three-month intervals. I can guess the phrases flashing in your mind: “out-of-touch” and “cheapskate,” but I prefer the terms, “traditional” and “frugal.” So when Kevin told me he wanted to post videos on YouTube, my first question was about how much it would cost. A sense of relief swept over me when he told me there wouldn’t be a fee.
Then I needed to know how he intended to make money with this new idea. Our conversation went like this:
Me: “If you really want to post videos on YouTube, I suggest you look at the people who get the most views on their sites.”
Me: “If you’re going to make money at it, you have to see how people do that.”
Kevin: “Who said I want to make money with this?”
Me: “Why do it if you’re not going to make money at it?”
Kevin: “I watch video games because it helps me relax. I play because it’s fun. I want to post videos on YouTube because it seems like it would be a fun thing to do.”
I stared at my son in silence. As a parent, I was so focused on Kevin’s career prospects with video games, I had lost sight of why he spends so much time doing it—the same reason I used to go out and ride bikes with my friends after school when I was a kid: I just enjoyed it. Lesson learned, courtesy of my son.
Postscript: After we talked, I did some research on the video game industry. I was flabbergasted to learn that video games pull in more revenue than the motion picture and music industries combined! I did a little more digging and came up with some counter statistics, but I must admit that the skyrocketing video game sales are eye-opening.