When I was in fifth grade, around age Eleven, I was introduced to a video game called World of Warcraft, developed by Blizzard. After that, my life changed forever. About a year into the game I had ranked number 2 on my server as a healer, and had been introduced to what is now called E-sports (electronic Sports). E-sports is a community created for people who want to further a career in playing video games professionally. The ups of being a professional video gamer is that one will continue growing as a video game connoisseur as well as they start to gain a revenue of an actual dollar amount and can make a living off of doing something that they generally enjoy. SuperData Research forecasts that eSports will grow from $748.8 million in 2015 to 1.9 billion by 2018 in revenue. To be a professional Gaming Athlete, and a money making streamer, requires constant hard work, dedication, and the will to keeping going through a rough patch. There are many Pros and Cons that balance the job as well.
First thing to know; Being a professional gamer does not happen over night. On xygaming.com, Scott Bednarski writes an eight part blog post about ways to start professional gaming. “When questioned about forms of making career in video-games, the general public would most likely narrow it down to two types of careers — playing video games and making them” (Bednarski). This is a common belief in most aspects of playing video games but soon, that idea changed.This quote shows the the value of video games is at a higher rate because those who make it sell it to those who play it, and even though economy explains worth and make, with video gamers, a constant creation is needed for gamers to make a solid amount of money According to Bednarski, “…There are probably a dozen forms of making a career though video-gaming.”. Bednarski helps explain that in the present, you can make money by doing so many different things with video games. These include, but are not limited too; playing games professionally, making video games, streaming, and competitive play. Webster’s definition of an Athlete is “a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports or games, requiring physical strength, agility or stamina”. “If you remove one of the norms of defining a Sport, that being physical interaction, gaming does not vary at all from traditional sports definitions” (Bednarski). Bednarski’s point is that by removing the part of physical interaction, that being a gaming athlete is the same as being a normal athlete. Bednarski also brings up a valid point that gamers are still physical if you count heart rate levels and finger clicks per minute. From my own research, an average 40 minute game of DOTA 2, a MOBA (multiplayer Online Battle Arena), I average 20 miles of finger movement across my keyboard and an average of 2000 clicks on my mouse.
There are so many steps needed to follow in order to become a professional gamer, but luckily Bednarski helps explain the basics. Step 1, practice against AI or in-game bots. “Don’t make it hard on yourself early and start directly playing with players that are already competent in the game, as it will only make it unenjoyable for you and those that play with you” (Bednarski). This is a good point and the fact that gaming takes not only skill, but a lot of time to practice that skill and a lot of patience for when a game doesn’t go as planned. Not every game will be a win, so to make sure that your cool is composed, is key to being a good gamer. Sure there are some games who’s signature is being a salty player, but that doesn’t mean everyone should be. Step 2, learn the language. “every game has its language; this is mostly used for being able to communicate with others in the game, by using abbreviations and jargon to quickly convey your message with teammates or in some cases, your opponent” (Bednarski). Language is KEY to every job, so in gaming it is no different! Every video game has its own lingo and being able to be multi-lingual in video games speak is a talent that people do not have. Finally, Step 3, Watch and Learn. “Like a fighter that watches his opponents, studying is the key to success as you can learn little tips, tricks, decision making, or even movement that can enhance your game play” (Bednarski). Much like learning the language, learning all you can about the game is key to having a head start in the game itself. Every game is different, and each game may have different mechanics, so it is important to figure out what the game wants you to do effectively.
One pro of being an E-sports gamer is the amount of money you can make in a short time. “Dota 2 international prize pool was $20,770,640, for 2016” (Bednarski). That is the total prize pool and first place won 9.1 million dollars to be split between five players and their coach. That is an average of 1.6 million dollars for one person. Second place won 3.4 million dollars which is still a lot of money per person. “An exact number is extremely hard to answer because they have many ways to earn revenue which can come from streaming, coaching, salaries, sponsorship, bonuses, advertisement, crowd funding, and the size of organization they are a part of reflects the salary they are given” (Bednarski). Each person makes a value different from the next person. Though it varies, and the highest salary is not going to be made immediately, Johnsandman, a youtube streamer had a moment in his life where he realized the he could quit his full-time job at target and instead stream video games and make double the amount of money he once was making, with half of the efforts and all of the fun. According to Ember franchise, a website that released current dollar amounts of E-sports players, “at the top of the list is the mid-laner who will earn $65,000 in salary with $21,000 in added possible bonuses. Next came their top-laner who would also make $65,000 in salary with $21,000 in added possible bonuses. The AD Carry earns $75,000 in total as well as $72,500 and $75,000 for the two remaining support roles” (Bednarski). This is a lot of information, but to play with the idea that on average one can make a yearly salary of $65,000 just from playing video games is insane, and the added bonus of a certain amount from extra things. Bednarski also plays with the idea that if an average salary is $72,000 and average revenue of money coming from streaming and donations is around $21,000 annually, then the average video gamer can make a healthy $93,000 annually and live comfortably doing so.
The skills required to play video games professionally are no more difficult to gain that the skills required to play football professionally. “Most of the major eSports today are extremely complex and fast paced” (esportsbetting). This is very true in the fact that any major game played for eSports is actually a mix of high speed mental processing and hand eye coordination. There was also a study that had the correlation between video games and students in school. “The more adolescents reported playing strategic video games, such as role-playing games, the more they improved in problem solving and school grades the following year” (Nauert). “A 2013 review of published studies found that playing shooter video games improved a player’s capacity to think about objects in three dimensions, just as well as academic courses to enhance these same skills” (Nauert). people who are more exposed to playing video games develop better skills for later life. The skills don’t seem visible at the moment they are developed because most skills used for playing vide games are passive skills that are all mental and cognitive and less active. “Multiplayer games become virtual social communities, where decisions need to be made quickly about whom to trust or reject and how to lead a group” (Nauert). Socializtion on a mass level helps develop socialization skills in the real world.
On average, most gamers will spend about 4.5 hours on video games each day, which leads up to 23 hours a week of video games, which is almost a full day dedicated to video games. “Today, most professional players skip or delay college, because the college-age years are considered the prime period for players in the big leagues” (Wingfield). The biggest struggle for most people trying to go professional is that they have to decide whether or not they want to start their career as a professional gamer, or go to school and chase that dream instead. Most people will choose to take a year off and become a professional gamer and make a lot of money off of it, while others choose to go to college. There are a few that attempt to balance both acts, and while most fail, there are a few who do both. I interviewed a professional Gamer named Christian Flores recently and asked him how he manages his time being a college student, Resident Assistant, and Professional Gamer. Flores explains that, “it is super hard having to go to tourneys, write a paper and take care of students but it also is a lot of fun doing it.” Flores works at Apple, streams live games 3 times a week, is a full time college student at San Francisco State and is a Resident Assistant for the dorm he lives in. “Balance is hard, but finding piece in it is a lot of fun and brings great joy to myself.” Flores explains that balance is the key to success and without it, being a professional gamer wouldn’t be worth the effort.
Playing Video Games continuously has some serious effects on a persons health that are not positive. “Gaming is sedentary activity and so can lead to obesity or other health issue if it is a persons only form of entertainment and they lack any other exercise” (BLOG). I believe this to be true, most gamers get unhealthy because they spend an average of 5 days sitting still and only moving their hands with the occasional movement of getting up and going to the bathroom. Pro Gamers now-a-days will spend 2 hours playing video games and then do a quick to minute workout, or walk around their house for 5 minutes to get their heart rate elevated. “Excessive use of digital devices like tablets and computer scan lead to eye strain, headaches, dry eye, and fatigue in your shoulders and neck” (essilor.com). Learning proper posture helps with the fatigue on the shoulders an neck, and making sure that every hour of looking at a computer screen, you look at something else for one minute that is farther than 10 feet to help with eye strain. I also want to bring up that the amount of sitting and other things that gamers do, also are done by people with a 9–5 desk job, which has the same health risk as video gamers with less interaction because of silent work in offices.
I would like to end this research with a recap on what it means to be a professional gamer. The pros definitely out way cons in many different ways. Gamers also learn a lot of valuable skills, and as we learned from Flores, traits that are very helpful even though there is a lot of stress with time management.
Allee, John Gage. Webster’s Dictionary. Owings Mills, MD: Ottenheimer, 1997. Print.
Bednarski, Scott. “How To Make Money In Gaming — Intro (1/8).” XY Gaming. xygmaming.com, 08 Feb. 2017. Web. 03 May 2017.
Bednarski, Scott. “How To Make Money In Gaming — Professional Gamer (2/8).” XY Gaming. xygmaming.com, 03 Feb. 2017. Web. 03 May 2017.
“Christian Ryan Flores.” Personal Interview. 29 Apr. 2017.
esportsbetting.co.uk, Author. “Pros & Cons of Becoming a Professional eSports Gamer.” ESports Betting. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 May 2017.
Nauert, Rick. “Video Games Can Help Boost Social, Memory & Cognitive Skills.” Psych Central News. N.p., 06 Oct 2015. Web. 03 May 2017.
Wingfield, Nick. “E-Sports at College, with Stars and Scholarships.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 08 Dec. 2014. Web. 03 May 2017