It's a real job and it can pay a salary.
Now the Ministry of Education is recognising that gaming can be a career choice for some youngsters and it has partnered with a Rotorua business to deliver gaming lessons in schools.
Digital Natives Academy has been contracted by the ministry to open up the world of gaming to hundreds of schools around New Zealand.
The lesson, called Get Into Gaming, will be held online in 350 school classrooms across New Zealand for more than 6500 Years 7 to 9 students until tomorrow.
Ministry of Education parent information and community intelligence deputy secretary Rose Jamieson said the ministry had partnered with Digital Natives Academy to deliver the week of online events that connected schools and young people with careers in the video gaming industry.
"Meeting industry experts helps young people plan their careers and understand the skills and qualifications they need to reach their professional goals. We partnered with Digital Natives Academy to help more young people think about careers in video gaming because we know it is a growth industry."
Digital Natives Academy founder Potaua Biasiny-Tule said digital technology was one of the fastest-growing parts of Aotearoa's economy, generating billions of dollars in exports and creating thousands of jobs each year.
He said the global gaming industry was now worth more than the film and music industries combined yet in 2019 only 30 per cent of senior secondary schools' students took any type of technology standard.
"If this trend continues, New Zealand will lag behind in its ability to meet the need of this growing demand.
"We have some of New Zealand's best, including top professional esports players, franchise owners, game developers, content creators, shoutcasters and storytellers all sharing their knowledge on how they have made their dreams of working in gaming a reality," Biasiny-Tule said.
The 50-minute episodes will be shared on YouTube each day and the students taking part in the lessons will watch the episodes during school hours.
Each episode will cover a key theme and the ministry has developed a series of resources including a teacher's guide and activity sheets.
Biasiny-Tule said there was also a competition that challenged students to create their own avatars, their own esports logo and their own digital worlds, with prizes going to the winning teams.
Marcus Powell, who works for Digital Natives Academy, said the only sport that survived during the pandemic was gaming.
"Olympics and UFC couldn't happen but the only big world competition that went ahead was esport ... In New Zealand, we have professional esports players and you can get contracts like you can in Super Rugby."
He said there were other career avenues in the sport including coaches, support staff, broadcasting support, production and behind the scenes as well as the creative side of making the games."
"It's a real job now."
Powell said already New Zealand had come a long way but there was more work to do.
"We never had this when we were at school. We got a computer put in front of us and told to learn to touch type. But this is the world that kids live in these days. We cannot bury our heads and hide away from it. This is the way to engage kids and get involved in what they love."
Powell said he was living proof it wasn't just a pipe dream.
"I am paid to do this full-time. I'm living the dream."
Rotorua content creator, actress and model Kahu Bennett, who is also one of the Get Into Gaming hosts, said the event was vital to supporting young people.
"Events like Get Into Gaming are important as it sheds light on the value of the gaming industry, not just the economic value, but also its contribution to today's pop culture.
"Video games can be educational, are a form of art and creative expression and connect people from all social groups and locations. As a country, we can either join the early waka and get ahead of the wave, or risk being left behind to watch other countries and economies thrive in a space that could have been ours."
Get Into Gaming episodes will be re-broadcast three times each day at 10am, 12.30pm and 2pm and will be housed permanently on YouTube at youtube.com/getintogaming or the website getintogaming/nz