Professional Gaming

I recently had a conversation with one of my friends about the realm of professional gaming.  Now, I don’t think that at this point anyone can argue against the fact that gaming professionally is actually becoming a viable way to make money, however, I often wonder where some people priorities are.

Professional Gamers
Professional Gamers

Much like becoming a rock star, a movie star, or a pro athlete, there is a very small percentage of people who can actually succeed in this profession, and a very large number of people who spend their lives trying, just to fail.  The current generation of kids idolizes professional gamers more than they idolize astronauts, baseball players, or any other form of previously held types of heroes.  This is all fine and good, but as I mentioned earlier, peoples priorities get out of whack.

There are many successful celebrities who never graduated from college, or even high school.  Many pro athletes who skipped college to go straight into the big leagues.  Many successful people of all walks of life who made it on no education.  What we really don’t know is, how many people dropped out of school to pursue a career in sports, acting, or music, but never made it.  Where are they now?  What do they do?

While you can’t knock people for trying, following their dreams, yadda, yadda.  You know, “you’ll never make it if you don’t try.”  All that sort of stuff applies here.  What I wonder is, how can people take such huge risks with no contingency plan.  Didn’t the thought “What if it never happens for me?” cross their minds?  Or do people delude themselves so much that they simply do not believe there is even a possibility that they won’t be hugely successful if they just try hard enough?  The contestants on American Idol come to mind.  Not the ones who make it, the ones who don’t.  They are some of the most delusional people I have ever seen and they have a whole suite of other people (family and friends) who reinforce their believe that they will be the next huge star.

Fast forward to now, the new big thing, professional gaming.  To touch on some of what I talked about above, there is now a whole generation of people, a whole sub-section of society who is obsessed with making money playing games.  Just like being a rock star, this is now entirely possible.  Problem is, the prioritization issue comes up again.  I recently found this article about a 16 year old kid whose parents withdrew him from high school so that he could pursue a career playing Guitar Hero professionally.

This is not a competitive environment, so the score hardly matters. But his attitude about it underscores some Peebles family truisms: Blake is so dedicated to gaming that his parents let him quit school so he can better concentrate on it.

They pay for home tutors instead. Mom and Dad do this, even though there are very few people in this country who make their living playing competitive video games.

Now I know for a fact that playing guitar hero professionally is actually a viable way to make money, now, as are many other games.  But that game won’t be around forever.  So lets just assume that Blake can actually be successful in this.  What happens when he gets older, loses his skill, or the game simply goes out of style?  With no education to back him up, and some obvious parenting issues, he is destined to failure.

Professional gaming is just like anything else.  It can be very lucrative if you are good, while you are good.  But the games change and evolve so quickly, that it can’t really last that long for anyone, can it?  You don’t get contracts, you don’t get a retirement plan.  You go to tournaments with a chance to win a ton of cash, if you win.  As long as you keep winning, the money flows, as soon as you stop winning, what then?  I doubt you’ll see Blakes face on the cover of wheaties any time soon.

Winning Big
Winning Big

While I could easily see myself watching a WoW raid or arena tournament, a street fighter tournament, or a guitar hero match on television, much like I would watch a football game, I am not so sure professional gamers will ever have the same type of celebrity status that real athletes do.  At least not for a couple of more decades.

I could name the top 10 guitar hero players in the world off the top of my head using their Scorehero username, but I have no idea about their real name or what they look like, much less do I care.

I think gaming should be fun, it should be an entertaining hobby, and if you find yourself exceeding good at a particular game, polish your skills, and go to a tournament.  Who knows, maybe you can make a couple bucks while you’re at it.  But please, at least graduate high school first.  The last thing this country needs is more reason to be labelled as one of the fattest, lasiest, stupiest countries on the earth.

2 thoughts on “Professional Gaming

  1. I read an article in a gaming magazine about professional gaming recently. According to this article, only about 300 people in the world currently make a decent living solely playing videogames. That is an incredibly small amount. It also said that for most of these people, the salaries they get paid are little better than you’d get for flipping burgers full time at McDonalds, that they rely on prize money for the bulk of their income.

    So it would seem being a pro gamer is hardly a “buy a house/raise a family” stable job. But I doubt many people expect it to be, and I’m guessing that people who do vie to be teh most pr0 are in it for the the love of gaming and the potential for attention and acknowledgment of their skillz.

    So they have no backup plans for when they fail? It’s not like everyone who has a college degree has decent jobs that they don’t hate. Backup plans are only worthwhile when you have obligations such as family and debt. Hopefully most 15 year old gaming starlets do not have these burdens, and when they wash out and have their dreams crushed in a couple of years, they will still have time to pick up the pieces and move on with a normal boring life.

    Bad priorities would be some mid 30’s dude with a house, wife, and kids, quiting his job so he can train to become the next Guitar Hero Champion of the world.

    And as an aside, kids really should drop out of high school. Seriously, it is a total waste of time. I only wish I dropped out and just got a GED. Wasting your time trying to become the greatest videogame player evar is far better than wasting your time sleeping through yet another American History class.

  2. Pro-gaming is an extraordinary waste of time. Not to mention very unhealthy. Even the prize money isn’t worth it. You’re better off keeping gaming as a hobby because 1. It’s simply more fun that way and 2. Gaming was never, and never will be, intended to be a profession, just a form of entertainment. Something to do when you don’t have anything else to do.

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