I am going to preface what I am about to say with the fact that I know I'm not the majority. I know this isn't for the masses, and honestly it's not supposed to be. I grew up under the assumption that if you wanted to be great at anything, you had to pour your entire heart and soul into it. So I never understood why, then, I was ever discouraged for chasing the 1% of people who "make it" in any given industry.
When I was a teenager, I was one of the highest ranked World of Warcraft players in North America.
Every single person in my life insisted that the hours I was spending in front of the computer were an immeasurable waste of time.
Today, I look back and see those hours as being the single most profitable investment I ever made in myself. Here's why:
Digital entrepreneurship is gaming.
You know those stories you hear about programmers sitting in their dorm rooms creating the next billion-dollar tech company? That's gaming.
You know those entrepreneurs that grind for 18 hours a day, by themselves (or with a small team) in a lonely apartment, sharing leftover pizza and three-hour old coffee? That's gaming.
A few months ago, I started my first real company, a ghostwriting and influence agency called Digital Press for CEOs and serial entrepreneurs who want to build their personal brands.
I kid you not, I feel like a teenager all over again. I have spent more time in my desk chair (the same one I sat in competing in the World of Warcraft a decade ago, actually) working than I have anything else. 16 hour days are a regular thing.
Entrepreneurship is gaming. It has taken me a long time to realize that, but that's exactly what it is.
And do you know what? Gaming prepared me well.
I look around at a lot of my peers, especially those who say they want to be successful entrepreneurs, and they don't have the stomach for it. They can't sit in a room by themselves and grind for 16 hours straight. They can't do that day after day after day, week after week after week, if that's what it takes. And a lot of them don't know the nuances of the Internet--things that are so familiar to me, I feel like it's a second language in which I am fluent.
As a teenager, that's how I spent my time, was online gaming. I would regularly pull 20 hour shifts, grinding out goals in the name of an armor upgrade. I would go entire weekends on six hours of sleep. I remember how many nights I went to sleep just as the sun was coming up, pouring into my bedroom through the window.
School didn't teach me any of that.
School taught me about parallelograms--something I saw no use for back then, and haven't found a use for since. School taught me about cells and rocks and things that I remembered for a test and have since absolutely no recollection. School taught me how to get by. It didn't teach me how to think for myself.
I realize not everyone will agree. I share this for two reasons:
If you are a parent and your kid is really into video games, I urge you to put some effort into understanding what they like about them, why it holds their interest, and maybe even what they hope to get out of gaming.
As a teenager, I was doing a lot int he gaming world. Much more than anyone ever even bothered to ask me about. I had one of the first Internet famous gaming blogs with over 10,000 daily readers. My first writing gig was a ghostwriting job for a gaming website where I wrote walkthrough guides for them. They paid me exponentially more per article than what I was making scooping ice cream at the local Coldstone Creamery.
But nobody asked me. And when I tried to explain, nobody wanted to take the time to understand.
Today, eSports is a billion dollar industry. Owners of NFL and NBA teams are buying up eSports teams because they see where it's headed.
I can say I helped pioneer the industry a decade ago. And today, I see those skills as some of my most valuable assets.
And gamers, if your passion is in gaming, I urge you to think hard about the skills you are acquiring and how you can ladder them up to even bigger opportunities.
Looking back, I am glad I moved on from gaming. I loved it, and I will always hold those memories close to my heart, but the world is a video game. And I promise you, there is no more fun game than the game of life.
Use gaming as a means to hone your skills.
But then see how much farther you can take it--outside the computer screen.