Let’s not lie to ourselves here – many of us have thought “Pah, professional gaming? How could there ever be such a thing?” or “Heh, I could do what these guys do!” So the questions I’m going to immediately pose to you are: Why doesn’t it make sense to you? Why haven’t you done it if you think you can?
These questions have really obvious answers too: A lot of us have these things called day jobs, which prevent us from dedicating our days and nights to the games that professional gamers get so deeply engrossed in. So how can someone be sat there playing a game night and day? What do they really get out of it and why? What are the games that are regularly featured?
The rise of the MOBA
There are a few games that are on point for this type of competitive play, which are known as MOBAs. MOBA stands for Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, which basically means you have many people playing in a strategic arena environment. Unlike a traditional strategy game, MOBAs focus on the player controlling just one unit. This is an important distinction as it means that people become more accustomed to playing as a class/unit, rather than playing in a one on one situation with lots of units and buildings.
The idea is this allows people to gain skills to become more reactive and indeed it is evidenced that some MOBA players are incredibly reactive in gaming. The amount of time a MOBA player puts in to their craft is phenomenal, it’s tantamount to the amount of time that it takes to practice a physical sport. This is why people who play these games to a professional level are often cited as playing an eSport.
Professional gaming has become such a huge market, all you have to do is log onto Twitch.tv to see just how many people are watching people play games professionally.
Other professionally played games
Technically, any game where there is a ranking system and a tournament in place could be considered a professional game. Whilst League of Legends, DOTA and Starcraft in particular took the Professional Gaming scene by storm, other games get played in tournaments and for money. A classic example are fighting games, which are still a lucrative industry. Just recently, Tekken 6 had it’s annual world tournaments, of which prizes included a trip around the world for the champion and runner up getting a home cinema kit.
Drilling down more, Tekken 6 also has European championships, where money prizes of £2500 was being given to the winner, along with a 46″ television and an engraved King of the Iron Fist Tournament trophy. It’s a huge spectacle which attracts thousands of people.
Then we have card games…
During the last BlizzCon, they had a tournament for Hearthstone! The tournament winner walked away with a nice £63,000 (ish… It was actually $100,000, so whatever the conversion rate was, I guess.) The thing is: These aren’t just fluky wins. These are people who have spent day in, day out training both mentally and yes, physically. They practice their game over and over and whilst to you and I it might seem rather overkill, it’s vital for them to constantly be on their game, pardon the pun.
World of Warcraft arena teams are still taken seriously, again the winning team netted around $120,000.
For the amount of work they put in, compared to some sports it might not seem like much. It might appear to be a market saturated with geeks and nerds, which is kind of precisely the point. Gaming has been seen as an exciting endeavour that people are willing to spectate. The rise of websites such as Twitch.tv makes professional players have a more mainstream eye on these professional gamers and because of this, sponsors are taking note!
Along with the immense popularity of video games, it seems that eSports, or professional gaming in general is going to become even more lucrative. Heck, I’m jealous that I don’t have one of these trophies. See you guys around, I’m going to become the world champion…
… At Killing Floor..? (How would that even work..?)
Ah darn it, I’m way behind already!
Would you have the determination or dedication to become a professional gamer? Do you see this as a viable future for gaming? Let us know what you think about professional gamers in the comments below.