Tech Careers: Professional Video Game Player

By Phill Powell

If you think the only game players who make a good living are professional athletes, think again. The next great spectator sport may well end up being video games.

video_game_tournament
eSports Arenas are being planned for large North American cities, to join this one in Santa Ana, Calif.

At one time, a job like “professional game player” sounded like the fantasy occupation of millions of gamers. But the fact is, pro video game player is an actual job, and one that can even be very rewarding, if you’ve got those all-important playing skills.

Video Games: The Spectator Sport
Which brings us to Santa Ana, Calif., to the eSports Arena, a 15,000-square-foot recreation center designed for playing and watching video games. And if its creators have their way, the Santa Ana facility will soon be joined by others throughout the country.

“We’re building dedicated eSports Arenas in major North American markets,” says Paul Ward, CEO of eSports Arena. “We’re creating a network of brick-and-mortar facilities capable of producing national competitions and events on a daily basis.”

They’re not kidding, either. COO Tyler Endres boldly predicts that video games – whether playing them or watching others play them – will soon become, “the 21st Century’s most popular sport.” Some may scoff at such a claim, but then again, nobody expected stock-car racing to become as hugely popular as NASCAR has during recent years.

Upcoming events at eSports Arena include an eSports tourney (worth $5,000 in cash prizes), an open tournament for FIFA ’16, and a League of Legends semi-finals and viewing party…with many, many more tourneys in the offing.

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Fingers of Fury: KT FlaSH has earned a half-million dollars playing video games. And he’s not alone.

Earning Potential
Parents are apt to raise an eyebrow at the notion that their child could make a handsome living playing video games, but there are players who have made very good money playing games.

Consider the example of Lee Young Ho, a young South Korean who goes by the game handle “KT FlaSH,” and plays StarCraft: Brood War so well that he’s amassed total game-tournament earnings of approximately $450,000, often taking home $10K per tournament.

FlaSH was one of those kids just naturally gifted at video game technique, which was proven by the fact that he had won half of his total winnings before he turned 18! And it’s said that fellow countryman Jang Min Chul (who plays as “MC”) has won as much or more, also playing StarCraft. He’s now 24.

Wanted: Game Skills
If your child or teen shows exceptional prowess playing video games, they may already be wondering if they have what it takes to compete professionally. Local game tournaments and challenge events can help provide the answer to that question.

But it’s also important to remember that tournaments aren’t “the only game in town” when it comes to making a living from gaming. Pro-level gamers are also needed by game magazines and websites to playtest new games that arrive on the market. They’re also needed and hired by game publishers, who require the services of outstanding gamers who can push their products to the limit.

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Game publishers also need excellent gamers to playtest their products.

Come Look Under the Hood
Many top-notch gamers end up working on the other side of the console – helping make video games that the whole world plays.

Start by learning games from the inside out, at one of Digital Media Academy’s summer game design camps.