There’s hardly a gamer in the world who wouldn’t take a job that allowed them to play games for money. It was the fantasy, dream job jokingly featured in Saturday morning cartoons, but with the rise of Twitch.tv, YouTube, and professional esports a career in gaming seems more of a reality than ever before. Choosing a career, though, is a heavy decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly, so it’s important to determine whether esports careers are realistic for most gamers.
The answer to that question is more complicated than it might seem. While many people outside of the esports industry would underestimate the amount of work that goes into professional gaming, the truth is that being a pro is hard work. Even retired professionals tend to play their game for long hours at extremely high skill levels, meaning they aren’t just passively taking in entertainment. Even getting to the point of a sustainable audience can be challenging.
Professional esports players seem to have a varying experience with how they got their start in the industry. Take professional Hearthstone player “Hafu,” for example; her entry into the industry started with World of Warcraft where, much to her parents’ ire, she played almost addictively. She has incredible insight into game mechanics that she credits for her success. For her, gameplay comes naturally, and backing natural gameplay insight with hours of devoted practice has resulted in a stellar career where she’s one of Hearthstone’s most popular players.
While players like Hafu urge players to follow their passions, waste no time on games you don’t like, and be confident in your skill, other pros feel differently. There have been numerous players who have played games that weren’t their favorite in order to establish their career, meaning that they spent years devoting their minds to the honing of skills for games they ultimately didn’t want to play in the long run.
Indeed, the esports tourney circuit is competitive; each game only has enough room for one champion and a handful of runners-up. The skills needed for the top levels of competitive play are sometimes much different than those necessary to be a successful esports streamer. Many professional esports streamers aren’t the best in their league, but they have the ability to explain, entertain, and perform in ways that make them unique.
Thankfully, esports isn’t just for players. Camera operators, venue directors, games casters, and analysts are all well-paid positions in the esports world. So, if playing in the top echelons isn’t something you want to pursue, there are still many ways to get into the esports scene.
Determination, networking, and passion will drive anyone seeking work in esports, and while it may not be easy to get a job right away, the industry has grown so much that it’s as viable as any other entertainment industry job now.
In the end, whether you’re a player or one of the many vital parts of the esports industry, you’ll find an industry on the rise with new positions, opportunities, and scenes available every single day.