20 Reasons professional gaming is a viable career


Professional gaming is an exciting career that is still in its infancy. There isn’t much knowledge available to give gamers a better understanding of how they can make it into a career. In today’s ever-changing society there is no such a thing as a job for life anymore. A career at the moment is just a set of jobs linked together by theme. Your theme just happens to be video games.

Is professional gaming a viable career?Yes. But there are some pros and cons as there is with any career.

Pros

  1. You can make lots of money
  2. You can make money even if your not the number #1
  3. You’re self-employed
  4. Dictate your own working hours
  5. You’re not limited to one platform
  6. Social
  7. Support/ infrastructure jobs
  8. Gaming sales have overtaken film and music
  9. You can create your own brand
  10. eSports on the rise
  11. Location doesn’t matter anymore.
  12. Professional gaming is still in its infancy
  13. More tv coverage than ever before
  14. Sponsorship
  15. Traveling
  16. More people watching games being played than ever before
  17. Big publishers are invested
  18. Fun work
  19. Skill-based games
  20. Lots of Tournaments

Cons

  1. Games change
  2. Injury
  3. High pressure sport
  4. Burnout
  5. Training

Professional gaming is still in its infancy, now might be just the right time to get on board and make a name for yourself. This Article will look at twenty pros and five cons you need to consider. Read on to see if a career in professional gaming is right for you.

Pros

1: You can make money

To some people making a lot of money is the most important reason to enter any career. Although it probably shouldn’t be your main factor for entering into a career of a professional gamer. The numbers do make for some nice reading. Winning competitions can be very lucrative. Top Athletes competing as some of the largest tournaments can earn huge sums of money. These can have life-changing consequences.

“Global esports revenues will reach $906 million in 2018, a year-on-year growth of +38.2%. North America will account for $345 million of the total and China for $164 million”

Newzoo

Tournament winnings are starting to rival traditional sporting tournament, in terms of financial reward. The great news is it’s not limited to one regional market. North America and China contribute the majority of global esports revenue. There are multiple other countries trying to quickly catch up.

2: You can make money even if your not the number 1

Money from tournaments are slowly being filtered down to lower ranking competitors. This is fantastic in terms of supporting career gamers. It is great to know when entering a new career that you don’t have to be number one to make a lot of money.

The international 2017 ‘Defense of the Ancients 2’ (DOTA2) had a prize pool of $24,687,919.00. The largest to date as of 2017. Finishing in 18th and 19th would get you a share of $61,720.00. First place won $10,862,683.00.

3: You’re self-employed, great for the independent minded

Being a professional gamer can be fantastic for the independent minded. Rewards are there if you are focused and driven to succeed. Unless you join a team you will be self-employed. That can be great if you enjoy controlling your own time and self-management.

If you find it difficult to take orders from other people, you can play it your way. You can be your own boss, responsible for your own successes and failures. This will especially work out if you are critical minded and can evaluate your performances without biased.

This may even include working from home. Allowing you to create an atmosphere that’s custom-built for you to succeed.    

4: Dictate your own working hours

You are the only person that fully understands yourself. What motivates you and what you want to achieve with your life.

The phrase ‘Know thyself’ comes to mind. We are not all the same. Some people wake up early and are ready to go. Others are better in the evenings, reacting to the natural flow of their bodies. For some dictating their own working hours can contribute massively to there productivity. Being a career gamer will involve a lot of training and studying for your game of choice. Being able to put those hours in, when your body naturally wants to work with you can be a fantastic benefit. Don’t fight yourself. You know yourself better than anybody.

Everybody learns a different pace regardless of what they would have you believe in school. Dictating your working hours will allow you to learn at your own pace.

5: You’re not limited to just tournaments

There are wide range of factors to determine how professional gamers earn their salary. You’re not limited to only making money from tournaments. The majority of professional gamers have a wide range of income sources. These vary gamer to gamer but usually consist of a combination of YouTube, Twitch, sponsorship and income gathering websites such as Patreon.

Having a large amount of subscribers on YouTube can get you a reasonable revenue through advertising. Twitch streaming relies heavily on a subscription model. Any active streamer can build up an audience and gain financially. These are not mutually exclusive options, a combination can help bring in the money. This also helps take some of the pressure off tournaments. Allowing you to concentrate on what you do best. Gaming.  

6: Social

Being a career gamer doesn’t mean giving up social interaction. It’s not as isolating as you think. Depending on which game you choose to dedicate your professional career to. You may need to join a team. Your group of like-minded gamers will work as a squad, and require a good level of communication. The high majority of the top paying tournaments are team games.

There are lots of opportunities for social interaction with the community. This might come in the form of your YouTube channel or your various social media commitments. There will always be opportunities to interact with the community.

7: Support / infrastructure jobs

All athletes have a short window in which they are at their peak. eSports is going to be no different. With the expansion and growth of eSports, the infrastructure is improving. This will inherently create more jobs within and around the industry. Having experienced competing in tournaments is going to be a huge advantage when you can no longer compete. Giving you the necessary experience to transition to different roles.

After you finish with the peak of your sport they’re always other jobs around professional gaming. Jobs include, trainer, commentators, team management, coach, broadcaster, social media manager and various infrastructure jobs. Just because you’re a professional it doesn’t mean you’re going to do the same role for the rest of your life. Open your mind and be realistic with your career path.

8: Gaming sales have overtaken film and music combined

Game sales have overtaken the film and music industry combined. Gaming is fastly expanding and changing multiple industries, film and television being the main affected industries. This growth is drastically changing the way we consume our media.

“The Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) said the gaming market’s value rose to £3.864 billion, more than double what it was worth in 2007.”

metro 2019

Where once it was hollywood and film stars that where the height of cool. It is now YouTubers and professional gamers that now influences the modern world.

9: You can create your own brand

With an internet connection, enough time and dedication anybody can now be a celebrity. You can create a brand that connects all aspects of your life. Where once advertising agencies were limited to television and radio. Audiences have moved online to get their fix of entertainment. Wherever there is an audience closely behind there always marketers.

Creating your own community through various content creating platforms, puts you in control of your community. Access to that community, to which you hold the keys can be a lucrative prospect to marketing companies. This could be as simple as selling your own merchandise, such as hats and t-shirts.

Allowing advertisers on your YouTube channel is allowing them access to your brand. How you build it is completely up to you. Just be careful to nurture it and build something you can be proud of.

10: ESports on the rise

eSports is on the rise, in fact, it’s only just getting started. It has seen year on year increases in every aspect. There are more tournaments each year. The pot of money each tournament hands out is also steadily growing. Viewing figures are now rivalling traditional sports.

There is a generation of young gamers growing up, not understanding that eSports is still in its infancy. For them it always has been and will always be.

2016’s League of Legends tournament that drew 36 million viewers, five million more than the NBA Finals, in front of a sellout crowd at the famous Bird Nest stadium in China.

Singularityhub

As old media adapts to streaming platforms, they have become aware of the powerhouse of eSports. As they invest more money eSports can only continue to grow.

11: Location, location, location

The big two regions when it comes to tournaments for eSports are North America and China. That does not mean you have to live in one of those regions to have a successful career. The world is a much smaller interconnected place than I have ever been. It is easy and quicker to travel now than it has ever been at in any point in history. There are tournaments all over the world from Australia to Vietnam. Nearly every country hosts tournament throughout the year.

12: Professional gaming is still in its infancy

Professional gaming is still in its infancy, with new technologies constantly changing the way this experience. Professional gaming has the opportunity to not only be a passive sport. It can actively engage the viewer. Large publishers are only just now building in tools allowing viewers to join in the experience.

Imagine experiencing a game where you are in control of the camera. Unlike traditional physical sports this would be impossible to do.  Digital eSports are on the horizon of adding in this type of features.

Google’s new streaming platform ‘Stadia’, is on track to do this very thing.They’re trying to build in a layer of engagement that allows streamers and viewers to play the same game. Where at any point you can simply press a button and continue playing the game at the exact point you were just watching. Allowing you to try and be more successful in your own version of the game.

Electronic Arts is also currently trying to implement something like this with the NHL and their FIFA and Madden series. Instead of just watching a replay you can experience it and see how you would have done it. This level of engagement will again change the way professional gaming is seen and how it will evolve in the future.

13: More tv Coverage than ever before

There is more TV coverage than ever before. Large corporations are investing heavily in infrastructure to stream sports this includes the ever growing area of esports.

“Disney also made another big announcement: It will launch an ESPN video streaming service in early 2018”

dotesports.com

Disney’s foothold comes in the form of ESPN video streaming services. Now that large corporations are taking professional gaming seriously it won’t be long until we see channels dedicated to eSports.

“According to the League of Legends Pro League, live broadcasts of its games were viewed more than 7 billion times by Chinese fans in the first half of this year, with the total time they spent watching games reaching 1.38 billion hours.”

chinadaily.com

14: Sponsorship

Everybody loves free stuff. If you can work your way to becoming one of the top professional gamers. You may end up with a  sponsorship deal. This would allow you to play with the very best and increase your chances of winning team competitions.

The top nine teams in eSports have all won nine million dollars as a team. The highest total earning team being ‘Team Liquid’ with $25,451,599.21 from 1487 tournaments according to esportsearnings.com. Thats an average of $17,116.07 per tournament.

It’s not just small unheard of companies who are sponsoring professional gamers. Large corporations such as Coca-Cola, Red Bull, Mercedes and Intel are all investing a significant amount of money into this area.

15: Travelling

The majority of eSports tournaments are not online affairs. They are extravagant shows that put the games centre stage. The could require quite a lot of travelling from tournament to tournament. Often in the same week considering the amount of tournaments being hosted throughout the year.  This may be a chance for a short vacations allowing for some sightseeing. Even taking in some culture from various countries.

16: More people watching games being played than ever before

eSports is a fast growing spectator sport, with the top 5 watched games on Twitch 2017 being:

  1. League of Legends – 274.7 Million watched hours
  2. Counter-Strike: global offensive – 232.9 Million watched hours
  3. DOTA  2 – 217.9 Million watched hours
  4. Hearthstone – 76.9 Million watched hours
  5. Overwatch – 25.2 Million watched hours

We are now just now getting to a point where the first generation of gamers are now old enough to be making the decisions when it comes to financing entertainment. With games no longer being seen as childish. Professional level gaming is starting to get its time in the spotlight.

“The League of Legends World Championship was the most watched event on Twitch in 2017 with 49.5 million hours. It also generated $5.5 million in ticket revenues.”

Newzoo

With certain tournaments finals reaching astronomical viewer numbers. The world has changed and watching games being played is no longer just a pass time of your ‘little brother’. Tournaments are seeking out new ways to engage their viewers. Tournament viewing numbers are only set to increase.

17: Big companies are invested in making eSports work

There is a reason the FIFA Soccer World Cup and Super Bowl make so much money. It all comes down to advertising revenue. The more people that watch a sport or a competition, means that large companies want to market their products at those people. The increase spectators for eSports tournaments has alerted large companies such as Coca-Cola, Red Bull and Samsung. They are all starting to invest in their own eSports teams, in much the same way they do for other sports.

“Brands will invest $694 million in the esports industry, 77% of the total market. This will grow to $1.4 billion by 2021, representing 84% of total esports revenues.”

newzoo

Sky UK and the English Soccer Premier League have launched ‘The ePremier League’ in 2019. This is a FIFA19 soccer tournament being endorsed by all 20 Premier League teams. Which is the richest soccer league in the world. The big companies are invested in the future of eSports it’s within their interest for it to be a success.

18: Fun work

If you ask most people with a job, ‘Is it fun’? They’ll tell you they’re doing it because they get paid. Finding a career in a job that you find enjoyable is a very rare thing in this world. If you have a passion for video games and the willpower to see it through. A career as a Professional gamer may just be for you.

At times you won’t believe you are getting paid to play video games.

19: Skill based games

The majority of games professional gamers play rely heavily upon skill. This is critical for the sports longevity. It allows the most talented competitors to rise to the top. There’s been a lot of call recently to try and reduce the amount of randomness within the top games.

There needs to be predictable randomisation. Which sounds like a contradiction in terms but actually makes a lot of sense. Imagine a quarterback throwing a ball down the field, the randomisation comes from the way he is throwing the ball. The way it is spinning and how much force it was thrown with.  Understanding all these aspects will lead you to work out where the ball is going to land. A skilled enough player would be able to work this out. This means the outcome was predictable.

If in a second instance the is balls thrown and then the rules of gravity were changed. This would make it impossible to determine where the ball was going to land. No matter how skilled any player was it would be impossible, they would rely heavily on luck.

Less randomness is better for the sport. This means only the top competitors in their chosen games will rise to the top. This is a double edged sword, as competitors will less likely have lucky victories.  At the opposite side it means hours of practice a day, and a strict training schedule.

20: Lots of Tournaments

There are far more tournaments and leagues than there have ever been. Covering a wide range of games and formats. Regardless of the game you’re playing there are more opportunities now. This is a great time to be gaming. There are is a lot opportunity to be found in online communities.

No longer are game tournaments held in dark back rooms of internet cafes. Professional gaming is just starting to reach into the mainstream audience. Tournaments are growing in recognition and prize pool. This recognition is allowing eSports to be included in the Asian Games in China for Hangzhou 2022. These grand spectacles are full of untapped possibilities.  Who knows one day in the far distant future eSport may be Included as an official Olympic sport.

Cons

1: Games change

To ‘become the very best there ever was’, you have to dedicate all of your time to one game. You run the very real risk of choosing the wrong game. What happens if you become the very best in the world at a game where there are very few tournaments.

The game ‘Overwatch’ was released in May 2016. It has taking off in popularity, being the fifth most watched game on Twitch 2017. That was almost impossible to predict. Games can come and go giving you very little time to change or adapt.

The top five games have the highest tournament payouts. Those same games also have the most competition, making it very difficult to break in to the elite for that given game. So choosing which game to focus on can be a very stressful.

Surely you think to yourself, I’ll just focus on the games I’m good at. You need to check if the given game has enough tournament support, to justify your time.

2: Injury and negative health

All athletes are susceptible to injuries, one of the largest ones when it comes to professional gaming is ‘Repetitive Strain Injury’. This can happen when you perform the same maneuvers on a control pad or a keyboard and mouse. Regardless of how ergonomic these devices become you’re still slowly  experiencing ‘wear and tear’ on your joints. This can lead to chronic pain if not managed correctly.

Office workers that use computers for a long time are told to take a break from the screen. It is recommended that they take short breaks, five to ten minutes every hour. When playing video games you are sat in front of a television or a monitor, having a break is the last thing on your mind. Games are designed by their very nature to suck you into their worlds. With time easily feeling distorted. This can lead to eye fatigue or even headaches.

3: High pressure sport

Competitive games are played at such a high speed, making every one of your single decision counts.  When playing in the very top tournaments, where there is a lot of money on the line, this can add an incredible amount of pressure to the individual’s decision making.

This might be the tournament you need to win to break even for the year. You could have just flown in for the latest tournament, still suffering from jet lag. You’re expected to perform at your peak level every time you play. Your team could be relying on you. Your sponsor is expecting a certain place finish. You are no longer just playing for fun. The pressure can quickly mount.

You are only ever a handful of bad losses away from forced retirement. Knowing that the supply of young recruits outweighs team places or sponsorship. There’s always a risk right around the corner somebody new on the scene will replace you. Knowing that everybody is aware they are playing on a knife’s edge.

4: Burnout

Burnout is a very real thing in professional gaming. Most professional gamers retire in their mid 20s. Making it a short career for the majority of gamers. This could be for variety of reasons. Some gamers just are not ready for the fame and don’t know how to handle the pressure.

They could even play a game so much that they hate it.  All they see are patterns and strategies. Becoming frustrated that their bodies aren’t as fast as their minds.

If not carefully monitored health issues could arise ranging from depression to repetitive strain injuries. It’s a very demanding career taking time away from other aspects of a gamer’s life. It can even take a toll on relationships, especially if there is a lot of travelling involved.

5: Training

Most professional gamers training every day, with a session ranging from 3 to 6 hours. It will take up a lot of your time. If you don’t train you have to remember there is someone out there that is. It can be hard to keep yourself motivated when you are doing the same repetitive actions.

Dedication is required for instance; learning all the maps of a game by heart. That way you can navigate maps blindfolded. Even going to the extent of being able to pinpoint someone’s location from the sound of footsteps in an FPS, even when they are not yet on screen.

Can you practice the same manoeuvre thousand times? If not then professional gaming may not be for you.

Conclusion

Deciding whether to pursue a career in professional gaming can be very difficult and overwhelming.  There are lots of contradictory positive and negative stories on the internet. I hope these pros and cons will go someway to helping inform you. I’ve highlighted some of the possible risks and potential rewards a career in gaming can provide. Whether you’re just starting on your career or its just coming to a close leave a comment down below. We would love to hear and share your experiences as a professional gamer.

Related Questions

1.Can bad posture lead to injuries? Yes, it can lead to back issues which can then potentially lead to nerve damage, which can affect the whole body.

2. Do I need the best gear to start a career in gaming? No. Use what you have. You can get started with just a ps4 or Xbox One and an internet connection. Better gear will help at the top level because every player is using it. So you need it just to be on a level playing field.

3. Can I learn to play games professionally, even if I have never played games before? Yes, you could in theory. The reality of the situation is, No. There is always going to be those one in a million that will pick something up quickly and be fantastic at it. That is the exception, not the rule.  

Nick Sinclair

Having played games since the golden age of the Commodore 64, Nick finally took the plunge and studied Creative Game Design in university. After 3 years of "Study", Nick co-founded a games company where he soon discovered his true calling: writing about games. 11 years later Nick writes about a tower of topics, but gaming is always stacked neatly at the top.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Recent Posts