What we tell our kids - video games

Trent surgery game.jpg

Valerie and I didn’t allow video games until our boys were in middle school, and once we did, Trenton made up for lost time.  Around seventh grade, Trenton said he wanted to play video games for a living, to which I responded, “Trent, no one is going to PAY you to play video games.”  Today, the industry is growing into the billions while young adults, around college age, can earn six-figure incomes and a select group make seven figures, sitting at their computers playing Fortnite, League of Legends, Overwatch and others.  According to Twitch, the platform that streams these competitions, over 1,000,000 YEARS of content was viewed on Twitch last year alone.

So much for my guidance on careers in video gaming.


In eighth grade, Trenton told me he wanted to develop video games for a living.  My insight: “Trenton, I’ve been driving a car for three decades.  It doesn’t mean I’d like overhauling the engine or that I’d be good at it.”  Trent said, “I don’t care; I want to do it anyway.”  So, we signed him up for a summer coding camp at Guildhall Academy, the Plano, Texas extension of Southern Methodist University.  Guildhall offers the premier master’s program in the world for video game development, and here Trent was in his element, with monitors and drawings of fictional characters as far as a geek can throw a football (farther than that, actually).

Trenton Graduation

Trent never changed his mind and entered the engineering school at the University of North Texas to major in computer science.  The result: Trenton’s only straight-A’s semester in his life came in college when he had all computer science classes.  That told me he was on the right path, and is now enjoying his career as a software developer (not with video games, but he enjoys it nonetheless).

So much for my career counseling.  Two down, one to go (although, in my defense, I never tried to talk Trent out of software development; I just warned him of the difference between the work and the play).

Austin and Allison have good personalities with the well-honed Cary sense of humor, as does Trent, but Austin and Allie are the two I’ve had to encourage to speak out and be willing to meet new people, stretch their boundaries.  Trent is the one I’ve often told, “People don’t care what you know until they know you care,” and, “You can learn more from listening than talking.”

During Trenton’s senior year at the University of North Texas, I introduced him to someone who used to run HR for a large software company, and asked him to give Trent employment guidance.  Trent demonstrated the games he and his team developed in class, the competition they won, and Trent went into detail about each person’s role, and the development process.  My friend was impressed and told Trent, “You know, you’re rare.  The kind of people who can do this type of development can’t usually explain it to the rest of the world.  You could be a valuable connection between developers and management.”

So much for my communications training…but at least I learned about the video game industry.

A friend and social media guru, Adam Smith, introduced me in 2018 to Robert Atkins who has been in video game development for over twenty-five years, and played a part in the development of the Guildhall’s curriculum.  Robert is now CEO of Balanced Media Technology (BMT) which has an app called HEWMEN that gamers load on their systems to help solve big problems like cancer and heart disease.  Yes, you read that correctly.  The app connects to the video game without slowing it down, and as the gamer pushes buttons, it drives an algorithm that uses artificial intelligence to solve the world’s problems.

A few weeks after meeting Robert, I caught up with an acquaintance who has business interests with Michael Irvin.  Near the end of our discussion, I mentioned BMT and thought aloud about creating an esports tournament between pediatric hospitals, with participation from athletes like Irvin and professional gamers teaming up with kids from the hospitals.  Many meetings and emails later, guess what.

It’s happening!  May 18th beginning at 10AM CST, the Play It Forward eSports tournament will commence at Children’s Health in Dallas.  Michael Irvin and Drini, the top Madden 19 gamer in the country and a member of Complexity Gaming, will join forces with kids from Children’s, along with a parent, to play Madden 19 on Twitch.  A game with the HEWMEN app integrated will also be available for viewers to play while watching the tournament and help find a cure for cancer.   So now, even someone like ME, who is not a gamer, has a reason to tune in and do my part to cure cancer while having fun!

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If that’s not enough, there will also be opportunities to support the renovation of the emergency room at Children’s Health.  With each of the three main health challenges Trenton has faced – both heart transplants and cancer – our first interaction with Children’s Health began with the ER, so this is a special campaign and you can have an impact.

Help everyone work together in solving cancer while playing games by sharing this story with your friends and ask them to join you on the 18th in “playing it forward.”

Click on this link to the Play It Forward eSports page on Facebook and click that you are “going”: https://www.facebook.com/events/2288906408017925/

Share the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/playitforwardesports

For working together and having fun while solving the world’s problems, I’m Still Thankful.