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Parents Let Kid Drop Out to Focus on Video Gaming

Like many 16-year old teenagers, Blake Peebles dreams of being a professional video game player. That's not unusual. What's different here is that Blake's parents actually let him quit school (he's still homeschooled) to focus on a career as a pro gamer.

Matt Ehlers of The News & Observer has the story:

Inside his upstairs bedroom, Blake's environment is set up specifically to make him a better gamer. There is a PlayStation 2, a Nintendo Wii and an Xbox 360. He also has a stack of plastic guitars, but no real ones. Blake doesn't play an actual guitar, a skill that doesn't really transfer to playing the virtual kind, anyway.

The frame for his bed is on the back porch, with the box springs and mattress on the bedroom floor. That puts his bed at a more comfortable level for sitting to play "Guitar Hero III" for extended periods. At the moment, he plays just a few hours a day, but that number will increase as the California competition nears.

Blake seems happy with his home school arrangement, as you would expect from a teenager who is allowed to stay up into the wee hours to play video games. Sometimes, when Mike heads to the gym before 5 a.m., his son is still playing video games. Blake calls it working "the late shift."

He didn't enjoy school, he says, and especially didn't like the rules associated with attending the Christian academy. Shaggy hair is more his style.

He's good at video games. "I wasn't really good at anything else that I liked." - via Wired's Geekdad, Thanks Marilyn!

(Photo: Corey Lowenstein)

That's really sad.
It's especially sad that he spends that much time perfecting silly skills and probably wouldn't even know how to strike a chord on a real, beautiful guitar 0_o
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How is this different from the olympic gymnasts who move their families across the nation in order to pursue full-time training?

Not that that's a great example of a functional family, but it's not like this is unprecedented.
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The story isn't about how he is not learning to play guitar, so why even bring it up? And by the way, those skills you have deemed as being so silly are earning some people a LOT of money... $100K+ a year and more for the best gamers. Perhaps some of that guitar-beauty you speak of needs to rub off on yer hasty-judgment mechanism.
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Hm, that's funny. In my crystal ball he's flipping burgers and looks a lot older.

On a more serious note though, this isn't really that different from parents who bet their kid's future on making it as a professional football or basketball player allowing school to go and hang. Don't know whether that's good or bad though.
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Being a professional gamer isnt all that great though. Its like being a professional snowboarder, skateboarder, or BMX. Being a 'pro' doesnt really bring in the money, its what you do with your fame. (See Fatal1ty and his gaming products)
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This kid didn't drop out of school. He's homeschooled, an arrangement that works for a variety of families for a variety of reasons.

One huge gripe I have with most schools is that they tend to force students to concentrate on not failing when they should be identifying their strengths and developing them. If Blake is good at video games, why not let him develop that skill? Even if he doesn't become a professional gamer, he can still go into the video game industry and have a "successful" career.
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star_stripe, successful career in teh video game industry? If you're on about game productions, that won't work. You either play games OR make them, really.
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The thing is, being good at video games isn't a marketable skill. This kid might win some contests, or if he's lucky be hired as a professional game tester. But he'll likely have carpal tunnel by the time he's 20, and the article makes it sound like he's not exactly shooting for an MS in Computer Science.
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I like that he said he "DIdnt like school" Does anyone like school? If they wouldnt let him wear his hair the way he liked it, go to public school!

Pro-gamer doesnt sound like a real job, or anything that would make you a steady income.
Im a horse-back rider so Ill use it as an example, Pro-horse riders are either at a show every weekend trying to win the cash prize, or theyre showing when they can and working during the week.

Gaming is a hobby. Not a career.
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I'm sort of wondering what exactly the parents were thinking when they let the kid do this, but I have to admit that it is really, really awesome in a mind-bendingly weird sort of way.
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I will never, ever let my son know that there is such a thing as a professional gamer. Ever.

But here's a question... At what age does a pro gamer retire? 20?
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"I wasn’t really good at anything else that I liked."

Where does that attitude come from? If you like something, you work at it until you get good at it, don't you? I'd say he's "good" at video gaming because it doesn't really require much in the way of cognitive thinking.

He'd better start practicing the line, "Would you like fries with that?"
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This is really a disgrace to homeschoolers everywhere. I think that it's a perfectly valid model, but boy do these folks take a dump all over it.

Fortunately, the whole family will realize the natural consequences of this when their son is still "training" in the basement at 30 years old.
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People who play and understand games can get hired as a game tester. And what comes from there, since he doesn't have a degree in Computer Science or Arts, is the question?

Ever heard of game design? It's my job and my career path. While I do have a degree in graphic design, I could very well do without it. Or any other degree, in fact.

I doubt that he's going to make a career path out of pro-gaming, but he can go places from there.
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@Camilla, as you have a degree in graphic design I assume you are a competent artist. Even without your degree you are an artist and it's probably for this which you were hired. Afterall, most companies look at your portfolio first. This kid isn't an artist.

How is he supposed to cross over from testing games to making them? If he couldn't stick with school, I doubt he'd have the commitment to put together a portfolio. Maybe I'm underestimating him....
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Shit, minus the news coverage and the switching to home school this kid sound like most of the lazy dipshits I just graduated the hell away from. Don't get me wrong, I love, love, LOVE vidja games. I just don't think they should matter THAT much. Unless you design them, I guess.
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He plays guitar hero a few hours a day...

That is about the most stupid and useless nonsense thing you can do with your life. Get a real guitar and practice a few hours a day - that would be something. But guitar hero? I would really love to smack some sense into his parents...
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I'm all for identifying natural public AND private schools we don't this this nearly enough. Too many kids graduate or drop out of high school not knowing they're worth something somewhere. This however, I mean..he stays IN BED playing video games. I have a feeling tons and tons of teenagers have the dream of being a video game tester..but how many actually get hired? Fortunately, being in the newspaper might give him a leg up on every other teenager who likes video games out there. ALSO, I'm willing to be his parents have no idea how good he mother is blown away whenever I pull up the weather stats on the internet.
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@cuimhe: You don't seem to understand the role of a game designer. It has nothing whatsoever to go with art or graphic design. It has to do with game ideas. Something that an avid gamer might as well be good at.

And crossing the testing->making bridge is not as hard as you seem to think.

I must say that I don't condone his decision of becoming a pro-gamer. But it's not the end of the world for him, is what I'm saying.
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I hope this kid knows about exercise and his parents are competent enough to give him a decent education that won't leave him without options.
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