Many gamers get their start on the family computer, already connected to the internet. Perhaps they have a laptop that they already use for things such as school work and browsing the internet. It is possible if you bought a computer in the last decade that can be used for gaming and competitions. However, like any competitive sport requiring equipment, not all components are created equal. Chances are, you likely already have what your child needs to be able to not only play but compete in esports.
Gaming consoles (such as an Xbox or PlayStation) usually cost a few hundred dollars. The price can increase when combined with customizable controllers and headsets. The costs for gaming-compatible PCs can run the gambit from several hundred dollars to well into the thousands. The budget is one of the first and critical variables to work out with putting together a "gaming/competitive setup." The gaming budget will be used to search for the different parts of the setup. These are the main components esports athletes will need:
- PC or console
- Mouse and keyboard
- Headset and microphone
- Internet connection
With the rising interest in computers and gaming, several companies offer "pre-built" systems, allowing the user to select a gaming rig directly from the store or website. However, this tends to be the more expensive route. The tower of the setup will consume most budgets.
If your child has a niche for tinkering, then building your PC can create a bonding opportunity and save on costs. Parents can follow several step-by-step tutorials on YouTube. Linus Tech Tips, Paul's Hardware, and Bitwit provide excellent, easy-to-follow instructions for beginners to seasoned PC pros. PC Part Picker allows a gamer to piece together the different components needed for their computer; it also offers a comparison tool for all major PC part carriers and a function that will ensure those components are compatible.
Monitors are the 2nd most important component in a gamer's setup. Monitors are responsible for displaying a PC's image. Not all PCs are made equal, and monitors are no exception. A lot of information is displayed with monitors, so keeping the search simple goes a long way until the gamer gets more familiar with the terminology. The three primary specifications to look for when shopping for a monitor are screen resolution (1080p, 4K), refresh rate (translates to frames per second), and response time (the time it takes for the screen to display your input). It's important for gamers to keep in mind that they don't need a high-end monitor, especially if your PC or console does not support those specifications.
A pretty good entry-level to intermediate monitor would be 24-27 inches, 1080p resolution, 165Hz refresh rate or higher, and a one-millisecond response time. Many monitors also provide extra compatibility, such as G-Sync or FreeSync, that allows the monitor to communicate better with the graphics card. Consult PC or console specifications if either of these is available.
Selecting this peripheral is based mainly on personal preference when building a setup. There are many options for the mouse and keyboard. The mouse's weight and button locations depend on the gamer, game, and style of play. Keyboards are chosen similarly. A popular type of keyboard for esports gamers is a mechanical keyboard. These can also be customized with specific keycaps tuned to the sound and feel your gamer prefers.
Headsets don't need to be anything spectacular, in all fairness. Communication is instrumental in these competitions. If a gamer plays first-person shooters like Fortnite or Apex Legends, it's recommend to have a headset with surround sound capabilities. This feature could save the gamer's virtual life when they're on the line. Lastly, the headset will need a microphone.
As far as an internet connection goes, the more bandwidth, the better. With virtual competitions, having the ability to download real-time data from the game's server milliseconds faster than an opponent can be the difference between winning and losing. A gamer can only blame lag for so long.
In addition to the basic setup, special considerations should be made if a gamer is into streaming or content creation to accompany their esports. Rather than just entry-level equipment, it's recomended to invest a little more. The PC will not only need to run the game but run the programs to broadcast or record the gameplay. This is where a gamer can "help with the bills."
Many platforms for content creation, such as YouTube and Twitch, allow gamers to monetize their content. This is a golden opportunity for parents to become involved and help teach their kids about finances. For parents, it is beneficial to look closely at the terms of service for each platform and provide guidance. Content creation can be one way to help offset the costs of the setup and can help pay for the monthly internet bill. The best part of this investment is that once a young gamer's content becomes monetized, the costs of the gaming equipment can be tax-deductible. That's right! esports can help pave a path for the young athlete to entrepreneurship!