Child gets paid to play video games

6/21/2006 1:58 PMBy: Adam Balkin New York 1

Victor De Leon is a professional video game player.

Little Victor De Leon plays just like any other 8-year-old. That is, until he starts playing video games.
That's because Victor is so quick with a controller, he already plays Halo in big, professional gaming tournaments. And "Lil' Poison," as he's called within the gaming world, rarely gets beat.
"He's really good. I can't explain it," said his father, also named Victor. "Well, for instance, he participated in this event in December in Chicago, and out of I think more than 550 people he came in second, and these are people that are my age, in their 20s, 30s or teens."
Part of what give him his edge is that not many 8-year-old know the meaning of pressure.
"I don't get nervous when I play," Lil' Poison said. "[When I go into a tournament what's going through my mind right before I sit down with all of these people who are excited to play this game?] That I'm going to beat them."
Young gamerVictor DeLeon, a 3rd-grader, has earned enough money to pay for college by playing video games.
De Leon has been gaming for three-quarters of his entire life. That's right - dad said Victor was playing - actually playing - at 2.
"There were times he started crying, so I just gave him the controller and he would stop," the boy's father said. "It got to the point where he started moving it, and basically got the concept of what to do. It was kind of weird. So, I started showing him what this button meant, what that button meant, and in just a couple months he was doing everything I was doing."
But this has gone far beyond just a little party trick or hobby. Lil' Poison actually now has sponsorships, companies that pay him to travel the country and play games.
At Major League Gaming's seven tournaments, gaming Web site 1up.com pays for travel, food, hotel and gives him a little extra, which dad says goes straight into a trust fund. So, it's no surprise Lil' Poison's parents actually budget plenty of game time after school.
"He comes home from school, homework first, takes a little break eats, of course, plays two games," his dad said. "That's it - just two. Then we leave and he comes to my parent's house, goes in the pool, plays basketball, then 8 comes and he plays with the team from 8 to 10 p.m."
Little Victor said he's not sure if he'll pursue gaming as a career when he gets older. His parents insist they let him do what he wants.
Dad says the only thing for sure in his son's is college. Incidentally, Lil' Poison has already earned enough to cover tuition.
Halo is a video game intended for mature players. Parents are urged to check game ratings and use their discretion when allowing their children to play them.

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