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Online gaming has been through a rather interesting relationship with ‘perception’. Games were created and used to test computers and systems as they were being created from as early as the 1940s. From the early 1970s and up to a decade later, 15 game development companies started. During this time, Ryan Hogarth, a local contender for the title as the Oldest Grand Champ in Rocket League was born.

Fast forward 40 odd years and the gaming industry would see the birth of the ‘LAN party’ as well as (ironically) the birth of Esports contender and gaming enthusiast, Julia ‘Bish’ Robson who cut her proverbial teeth in gaming via these exact, albeit more well-known and evolved LAN parties hosted at Organized Chaos in Cape town in 2010.  The unique selling point of these two individuals, despite their multi-generational age difference is that they’re both ‘punching above their weight’ in the online gaming space, one as a young-at-heart gamer who plans to take the Oldest Grand Champion title in Rocket League (Ryan) – a game described as “soccer, but with rocket-powered cars”; and another (Bish) who has successfully made online gaming a serious, remunerated career choice.

Both gamers use Predator devices to pursue their gaming dreams and have different yet aligning views of how their ages have affected their journey as pro-gamers. Interestingly, both kicked off their gaming careers accidently – Bish joined her younger brother at a LAN party and soon entered as a team with him; and Ryan when looking for something more entertaining to do other than participate in binge series’ watching.

Although Bish is of the opinion that there are no age limit when it comes to online gaming, to which Ryan somewhat agrees, he does highlight two difficulties that is associated with  more ‘mature’ gamers – aging fingers and reaction time – which is not dissimilar to any competitive physical sport. “It gets harder the older you are – young fingers are simply far more agile,” laughs Ryan. Ryan also highlights the stigma associated with older gamers as a challenge – not necessarily because they don’t know what they’re doing, but more about the older gaming generation legitimising their gaming profiles by being honest and authentic – very much Bish’s recipe for how she created a name for herself in the online gaming space too.

Ryan’s advice for any young person starting out in the gaming arena doesn’t sit too far from the advice any dad would give to their child starting out in their career, “Have a plan. Be serious about where you want to be and how you plan to get there. Understand that although your relationships are based mostly online, you will need to network and build relationships offline too.” Bish’s advice – learnt early on in her gaming career, is to ‘treat other gamers like you would like to be treated online as you never know what they may be going through.’

Ironically, both Bish and Ryan feel synonymous with their views on how they may be perceived by the different generational audience – that there will be hard days, that they lack experience – either from a age or platform perspective and that to make this career choice a success will require hard work. “Learn from others, don’t judge, respect one another and have fun,” echo Bish and Ryan.

To catch up with either Bish or Ryan, pop down to the Acer Predator stand at Vodacom rAge 2019 from 27-29 September at the Tickerpro Dome in Northriding, Johannesburg.