Ah, the dream job of gamers–professional gamer. Or is it? Honestly, from what I now know about what it takes to be a pro gamer, I think I’m happier where I’m at. It’s a lot cushier being one of the hordes of bumbling zombies than the hero with a shotgun. What I’m talking about is the hours committed to playing video games.
IMAGE FROM INTEL
You might be thinking I wouldn’t want to play video games 8 hours a day because I have a life. Nope, unfortunately, I don’t have a life. I’m just lazy. I love playing video games, but I can’t see myself playing a single video game that long, all the time, over and over, grinding things out. I need veg out time to allow slobber to collect on my chin. I like to pretend I’m fully paying attention to Star Trek Discovery while floating somewhere between “of this world” and ” gone to the world.” Sometimes, I just like laying on my bed with my phone in my hand for days. I’m probably more “attention challenged” than lazy, or at least I like to tell myself that when I need a pep talk.
What do you think, could you practice your particular video game 50 hours a week? A varsity esport team member goes to class, plays video games about seven hours, homework, sleep, repeat. My college experience was more like wake up after missing a class, stumble around campus for a few hours, go home and sit in a bean bag knocking back energy drinks and trolling forums for ten hours, cry myself to sleep, repeat. Haha, I’m mostly kidding…but really have you seen Tommy Boy? There is a 30-second scene in the beginning that represents me well:
Tommy Boy is my spirit animal. Okay, okay enough about me since I’m no pro gamer. Really though, there’s no rest for the wicked when it comes to pro gamers. There are so many millions of players out there, with tons of people wanting to be the best. The only way to be at the very top is selling your soul to the devil in the form of putting in long hours of playing.
Did you know most pro gamers are underweight? That’s because they don’t usually spare the time to eat every meal. A lot of teams have a manager order in food for them to eat as they play. They are under eating a lot.
What’s extra impressive about these pro gamers is not only how much time they spend towards their goal, but the respect is just not there compared to other professional athletes. There are a million movies where Papa insists on his little boy putting all his eggs in the football basket. “I’m so proud of you son,” he tears up, after his boy practices day in and out. You think that’s the same for gamers aiming to go pro? Just ask yourself, what would your parents feel if you spent every moment not in school playing video games? Mine certainly wouldn’t have been happy. Plus, the big money is only a recent thing, and sometimes that means just the winners walk away with a pile of cash. Although, don’t forget that if you aim to play esports for college, you’ll make money in the form of scholarships. I wrote a whole blog about esport scholarships here.
IMAGE FROM THE VERGE
An essential step to becoming a pro gamer is being recruited. That means someone notices your talent and wants you to be a pro gamer for them. That’s when it goes from a hobby to professional. Being recruited gives you the financial support needed to go to the next level of gaming. Let’s face it, with school or work pressing down on you it would be pretty hard to put in the needed hours. Not just team practice hours either. A lot of pro gamers spend other time in the day to play alone and stream on Twitch for hours. Don’t forget esports are a year-long sport. The only break is a very short one after really big matches.
Some teams even go beyond this. Chinese esport teams stay in the same house year round! That sounds like a Korean Drama tv series waiting to happen. Except, of course, one of the “male” housemates ends up actually being a girl in disguise who falls in love with another teammate in the house. Hmm, yes I need this.
IMAGE FROM SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST
I mentioned lack of parental respect, but overall you need some thick skin to handle the job. Once you become the best and get to the top, you have a lot of people watching you. “Internet people” I mean, and we all know the internet isn’t the most empathetic place around. I’m talking about trolls. Most athletes do their thing on a field. Pro gamers are exposed to doing their thing on the internet most days, while they stream gameplay on Twitch. Not so easy to ignore comments when you are in the thick of it.
Overall, dedication and perseverance seem to be the running theme for being a pro gamer. How about it–do you want to be a pro gamer and do you think you have what it takes? I have to admit, even knowing they’re a slave to the job, it still sounds like a cool dream job (that I’m ill-equipped for). I mean “professional gamer” just has a beautiful ring to it.
Want to see into the life of a pro gamer? Check out the documentary Free To Play by Valve. It follows three professional gamers from different parts of the world as they prepare for the first International, back in 2011. The entire one hour and fifteen-minute movie is up on YouTube:
So what are your aspirations? Let us know in the comments section or Tweet us @essjay_ent!