Putting Your Controller Where Your Mouth Is: A Guide To Beginning Your Professional Gaming Career

Video games have changed since your parents’ day. In fact, video games have probably changed since your childhood; as the Internet continues to grow and expand, it creates opportunities for like-minded people -- and those with common interests -- to come together and form communities. You’ve heard the saying, ‘if you build it, they will come?’ Well, life on the World Wide Web allows for the opposite: it is possible for gamers, either through charm or skill, to build careers out of these bustling and diverse communities.

Establishing yourself as a professional gamer can not only lead to a successful life, it can be incredibly lucrative. Take the DOTA 2 championship that occurs in Seattle every year: after months of competitions, the final 16 teams composed of the world’s best DOTA 2 players come together to compete for the prize. The winners take half of the pool, which is raised mostly through worldwide donations and contributions. In 2018, it was worth $2.8 million -- more than enough to live off of lavishly.

So, gaming professionally allows you to do what you love full-time while also taking home more than you might’ve if you’d pursued a degree in American History, how do you get started?? Odds are, you’ve already established a skill base; let’s take a look at what’s next.

Tournament Testing

Wannabees expect their experience and skill to tower over others; unfortunately (and most of the time) confidence is nothing more than a personal perspective. If you want to prove that you can walk the walk as well as talk the talk, you’ve got to make a name for yourself. By becoming involved in local tournaments and competitions, you can get a grasp on your true rank while also making connections between other, more popular and skilled real-life individuals. If you aren’t quite ready for head-to-head combat, look into AI battles: they offer a safe, reliable way to test (and prove) your mettle.

Living Large and Live

If you want to be remembered, people need to know who you are. Whether you prefer MMORPGs or single player games, you need to get your brand out there. Livestreaming offers success in a multitude of ways: you can prove that you’re someone worth following by being funny, being talented, or -- as the best have proven -- a mixture of both. Gaming is social, so connecting with your fellow members in a real-time space is inherently helpful; by encouraging them to remark on what they’re seeing, you’ll learn what’s working, what isn’t, and what their biggest takeaway is.

Make ‘Em Laugh, Make ‘Em Learn

So, maybe you haven’t quite excelled at being the best of the best -- there’s still hope! You don’t need to have the world record for Super Mario 64’s fastest playthrough in order to gain recognition; many Youtubers make remarkably successful livings based off of their ad revenue as opposed to donations and subscriptions from gaming platforms like Twitch, or worldwide competitions. The distinction exists in charm and likability: if someone is hilarious, charming, or interesting enough, they can play the original 1972 Pong and it won’t be boring. The key is finding and exploiting the right talent.

Although it may not seem like it, professional gaming is about the individual. Once you discover your niche -- an area that no one else seems to manage and explore as well as you do -- there’s no telling where you’ll go.

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