Shelby: Ian Wyatt, a.k.a Enable, is honing his Halo skills at a private, Red Bull training center in New York City. Watching him practice is like watching any top athlete. He is wearing down the competition, constantly strategizing with his teammates and taking cues from his coach. For about eight hours a day, Ian will stay glued to the screen as he prepares for his next tournament.
Ian: It’s definitely dedication. Like any other sport, you know, if you don’t practice, you’re not going to be good at it. Like, I put in a lot of time to become a professional. It wasn’t just like, you know, ‘oh hey, I’m good at this.’ Like, once I realized that I wanted to do it, I dedicated a lot of my time and not many people can do that.”
Shelby: Is it hard balancing gaming with school?
Ian: Not really. I actually think it helps because, you know, being able to be a professional gamer and actually go to school. You know, many people would think that’s hard, but it allows me to be able to multitask and do two things. You know, go home and do my homework, and then practice with the team. So, I think it helps more than it hurts.”
Shelby: It is Ian’s dedication that has allowed him to be among the best in his sport – quite an accomplishment for someone who is still in high school.
So, you are one of the youngest professional gamers. What is that like?
Ian: I think they’re intimidated by me. When they stand and they shake hands, they’re like, ‘wow, I just got beaten by someone who’s half my age.’
Shelby: For Ian, being a professional gamer means that he gets paid to play Halo. He is sponored by Red Bull and he competes for cash prizes in Major League Gaming competitions across the country.
But rewarding people for being ridiculously good at violent video games is controversial. Some research suggests that violent video games can increase hostility in young people who are already prone to aggressive behavior.
Over the years, many people have spoken out against violent video games like Halo and Call of Duty, saying they lead to violent behavior.
Ian: I actually think it does the opposite. Sure, there’s violence in the games, but it allows, you know, people to, I guess, get their aggression out in the video game and not the real world.
Shelby: In fact, recent studies suggest that these games might actually be good for you. Researchers from the University of Rochester in New York found that gaming — violent or otherwise — can improve hand-eye coordination, creativity, decision-making and concentration.
Major League Gaming’s co-founder agrees.
“It’s reaction time. How many actions per minute you’re able to execute flawlessly, your overall strategy, your mid-game strategy, your long-game strategy. These things all relate to real life. Because when you find yourself in a situation in the game and you think, ‘oh my god, I can’t possibly win this,’ but somehow you pull it out and carry that over. So, you’ve looked at defeat and you’ve figured out a way to win. That applies in real life as well. Just because it’s in a virtual environment, doesn’t mean it doesn’t teach you something.”
Shelby: Ian says his experiences have taught him a lot about what it takes to be successful, both in professional gaming and in the real world. A balance that he hopes will continue.
Ian: I’m going to be going to college after this year, but as long as I can keep competing and placing, we’ll see how long it lasts.”
Shelby: Shelby Holliday, Channel One News.