#NovaFam is more than just a hashtag...
Some might assume that parents don’t back their children up when they mention an eSports career because they’re disapproving of the scene, or because they’re unsure of the future it might hold for them. I’ll admit, while writing my interview questions for the parents in the last Vainglory parents article, these were the only issues I expected they could have. Only by taking the time to talk further with one of the parents was I able to dig deeper and really understand the reasons behind the skepticism that these folks may be feeling.
Paul, the father of the Nova eSports Vainglory player LoneDelphi, contacted me after the article was published to further discuss the role of parents in supporting their kids as they become online, mobile, amateur, and/or professional players. What Paul said was something that I felt I inherently knew, but never considered as the main reason for hesitancy; I feel like this is because one gets so focused on the disapproval some kids are faced with that they don’t even consider the most basic reason for doubting their success in the eSports scene.
“We had no clue,” said Paul, before continuing to explain that it simply wasn’t on the radar for him and his wife. They had no inkling whatsoever that kids could actually get paid until their son brought it up to them, but when they finally realized the gravity of the situation, they were blown away. “We had no idea that this whole industry existed.”
Continuing to talk about the supporting role he played in his son’s past sports adventures, Paul brought up LoneDelphi’s endeavor with volleyball prior to his Vainglory career, which looked very promising at first. When Delphi told his dad that he wasn’t interested in continuing with the sport, Paul accepted it and decided to do whatever he could to make his son happy. Not long after, Delphi approached his father and said that he had saved up money to get get a new iPad so he could improve his skills. After talking further, I now fully understand why the reaction to his son approaching him to talk about a viable eSports career was “WOW;” this was all so new that he had absolutely no expectations and the possibility of his son getting payed to play a game was just unimaginable. Over time, things really started to click with as the dad developed a real understanding of the scene.
Now that he’s more involved, Paul sees the dynamic between youth and their parents in the scene for what it truly is. “In eSports, that kind of parental support [that is witnessed with traditional sports] doesn’t exist. The kids need peace and quiet to practice, so as a parent you don’t have any access to what they’re doing - especially as older parents.” He continued to explain that until they get to the competitive level, where a parent can actually watch on the weekends, there’s a major disconnect. “How would a parent even be involved when their child is practicing?” Budding eSports players may lead an isolated life, but it absolutely speaks to the dedication required for them to succeed.
“There are all the kids sitting in their room, and nobody has a clue,” Paul continued. “What these kids are doing isn’t anything like the sports that we’re trying to compare them to, [in terms of] family participation in their children’s activities.” In order to help Delphi succeed with Vainglory, Paul redid the internet in their house so he wouldn’t have lag in the bedroom where he practices. “This creates a disconnect - it’s not like parents can go and observe and really be there.” He went on to say that he and Delphi’s mother wish they could have been there for him earlier, but truly they had no clue.
Something else Paul relayed that I’d never considered was the aspect of interaction that beginning professional players may face. I play Vainglory by myself quite often, but it was strange to hear that the Nova members had not even seen each other in person before the Summer Live Championship in Los Angeles; every interaction they’d had with each other leading up to it was via Twitter or Discord. “They’re from all different places,” Paul said.
And with that, his son came downstairs, and Paul called out to him; “Hey Paul, your headset is on the dining room table.” They discussed the headset for a moment before we said goodbye, and I was left to contemplate this information. I thought the support I witnessed between these Nova players and their parents was awesome before, but this revelation makes it all the more special that some parents are willing to go all in for their children on something they truly have no idea about.