“Hey guys, whats up? Once again it’s your boy Dante (AKA on-line Fighting Game veteran,”Vict0r Freeze”), and I am pumped and ready to give you the latest buzz on the video-game beat!”
Growing up as a lad in the 80’s (don’t judge me), If you were to tell me one day grown-ups would be getting paid actual money and make a “real” living playing video-games, I would have said you were nuts and should seek “professional” help. Flash-forward 20 years or so later and here we are in an era of professional competitive gaming.
Though Organizations like E-Sports and MLG (Major League Gaming) haven’t been around for that long relatively, in the short amount of time of their existence they have given hardcore gamers the career they’ve always dreamed about. There have been video-game contest in the past, but it wasn’t anything resembling any form of organization, and the prize if you were lucky, was maybe $100 (not exactly living like a rockstar).
E-Sports originally got its start in countries like South Korea of all places, and were comprised of a small handful of players who just enjoyed a higher level of competition with like minded gamers. And at the time, demographically the viewer-ship was more or less about 96% male dominated. Now days, the competition community has gotten bigger, and you will see a much larger female audience. And those same players of RTS (Real Time Strategy) games like League of Legends, DOTA, and Starcraft, not to mention MMO games like, World of Warcraft, are now selling out gaming competitions at venues like the Staple Center in Downtown Los Angeles.
Along with a growth in attendance size is a growth in organization and with that, big prize money. Like I mentioned earlier, the general take-away from a competition even ten years ago was only a fourth of what players make now. Now with attendance in “live” competitions reaching numbers into the thousands, and ticket prices for these events going higher and higher in cost, this allows the players to play for a much bigger purse. Some may go as high as a “six figure” pay check!
Going to the “Live” tournaments aren’t just for those who want to play. This has become a community event. Fans of these games and its heroes have added to the popularity of professional gaming. Having attended the E-Sports panel last month at Wondercon 2014 in Anaheim, California, I was able to hear from some of the Professionals in the field about the current status and future of competitive gaming. Some recognizable names like Eric Abramian, World of Warcraft veteran, and leader of the #2 ranked “Blood Legion” guild that happens to be sponsored by gaming computer company, Razer! The advice he gave was simply this:
“To be a pro gamer you have to practice a lot. First you have to develop the skills necessary. You have to train and get better. You must be able to identify mistakes and learn from them. I know League of Legends teams have managers or coaches who direct practices and provide what the players need to play. From computers to housing to food, they cover it.Just like any other sport it takes lots of time and dedication. You have to be willing to stare adversity in the face and overcome it. You also need to work with other players with equal skill or you won’t get any better. The best only get better by competing against the best.”
He along with the other panelist went on to say that the good news is, competitive gaming is only getting bigger, and hopefully will reach different genres like “fighting games” and “sports” games. (Being a “fighting game enthusiast”, I know fighting games do have organized competitive tournaments like EVO, but, they are for the most part much smaller than RTS and MMO tournaments).
And as far as how to actually get into the pro-gaming biz? Your best shot is following what Abramian said about perfecting your skills, and with that, go to the gaming tournaments and start BUILDING A NETWORK OF CONTACTS! Like with anything life, it’s always about “who you know” as much as “what you know”. And perhaps, one day in the near future, you’ll be the next #1 Ranked tournament player in your genre!