How old can I start gaming competitively?

Competitive gaming attracts more and more people every year and just like mainstream sports, it also attracts a lot of viewers. Viewers. however, only see the end product and what's on their screen but often, there are a lot of things that happen behind the scenes that people don't see. One of the things that people will usually be looking for when they're watching something is relating to someone who looks just like them. It could be by origin country, by skin color or simply by age. A lot of people like when they see athletes of similar age because it gives them hope that in an alternate universe, they could've been there.

Now, age is an interesting topic when we talk about competitions. In the competitive gaming scene, this is a question that is often asked. Either for themselves or asked by parents who want to bring their kids in. Understandably, the younger you start your competition journey, the better your chances are of reaching a very high level very early.

How does it work for traditional sports?
Whenever someone asks me when can they start gaming competitively or how old is 'too young,' I always answer with the question "How does it work for traditional sports?". A lot of time they don't exactly know the answer, but they'll answer something around the lines of "minimum age I guess" and for the most part that's correct, although it's not so much of a hard rule as it may sound. Sports are generally just trying to protect their sport and their players so that we can keep playing it and so they can keep making money. If someone is underage and acting as such, it doesn't look good on the league as the players are a reflection of the league.

For example, in the NBA, the rule is all Athletes must be over 19y/o. Even though, most of them are over 19 when joining the NBA, you have exceptions of people joining in earlier. The youngest player recorded in the NBA joined at 17 years old, so two years under the 'legal' joining age. You can read a bit of the story of Andrew Bynum here. Logically, an athlete still needs to go to school and become good enough to be able to play at this high of a level. It'll simply be very rare that someone of a much younger age acquires the experience and knowledge needed to start in a top professional league.

How does that relate to competitive gaming?
Well, it's essentially the same answer. Most games will vouch for a player that's legal so that it makes things easier legally when traveling and entering tournaments with money, etc. but I've also witnessed a few 13 y/o competitors accompanied by their parents, and I think that's beautiful. Parents who encourage their kids to compete in, what could be, such a fierce environment is very inspirational. But if you do, you have to know that unfortunately, you might expose your kid to foul language and bad behavior... but ay, that's part of the game!

Some games do have hard legal limits on who can even play the game. Those are games like Call of Duty, Gears of War, Battlefield, etc. that are PEGI18, therefore if a minor were to be seen in the premise, the whole venue and organizers would have a hard time explaining it. 

Now that you know how old is too young to start gaming competitively, what are you going to do about it? How old were you when you first started gaming?

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