As a child I always viewed myself as a competitive gamer. I would stay up at night thinking of tactics to win at Warcraft 3. I would be constantly chopping and changing my Pokemon line-up to get the most versatile fighting team. Id fight dozens of matches on Street Fighter and Tekken to find the characters who suited my style the best. All this training came with one intention, to be the best gamer out of my friends. This competitive spirit also acted as fuel for my dream: to be a professional gamer. I wanted gaming to be my breadbasket. I would compete at multiple tournaments, each a different game and come out on top. I wanted the crowds to roar my name in excitement and for my competitors to whisper it in envy. I would be a gaming celebrity, with a grand lifestyle to go with it.
But that was just a dream. As I grew older my gaming style became more relaxed. I would choose to play more non-competitive single player game. I opted for games which offered a vast open ended world; filled with lore and adventure. Along with this came a new drive for me to get top grades at school, which left me with a lot less time to spend gaming. In the end my dream of becoming a professional gamer died and was replaced by a more realistic and achievable life goals. But I cant help but wonder how real could my dream have been. What life could I expect if I packed in and tried to go pro? What are the truths behind the myths surrounding the professional game?
The first thing I came across was that the lavish lifestyle was exaggerated. A professional gamers lifestyle is more akin to that of athletes. They spend weeks at a time in training, honing their skills to be best prepared for any competitive situation. They are expected to prove themselves at lesser meets to earn the right to compete at the top end of competitions. This expectation also comes with a tough training regime. A professional gamer will spend most of their days playing dozens of competitive matches. Analysing replays to look for and improve upon any weaknesses in their game. Winning soon becomes less important than losing, as winning does not offer the same information as losing does. The fun of gaming soon becomes a harsh routine.
But what did these games have to show for their efforts. For a while after I lost my competitive spirit I thought that pro-gaming was a lost cause. I believed that not only would society label them an outcast, but also the gaming community viewed them as arrogant. Most importantly I thought they did not receive any recognition for their efforts. But those were just misguided assumptions. Major tournaments like the MLG are televised all over the world on streaming and games websites. Youtube celebrities such as totalbiscuit made their name by competing in starcraft tournaments. Youtube itself has allowed individual members of the gaming community to show off their own PvP skills. All of these assure me that competitive gamers do receive credit for their efforts. They arent the celebrities which I thought they would be, but at least they have the chance to earn the respect or envy of the community.
All in all, my dream was very different to reality. The more I look into the topic, the more I get put off. Professional gaming is a hard lifestyle. To get to the top you have to mould yourself into a formidable opponent. You sacrifice gaming as a hobby and turn it into a deadly skill. As I child I wouldnt have comprehended this. But as I grew older I realised that nobody in life becomes good at something without working towards it, especially when money becomes involved. Finally, to round off this article, what do you think? Did you aspire to be a pro-gamer? What put you off turning your hobby into work? Do you have a whole different view altogether? Please share your thoughts below.