Remember when you spent entire days glued to your television with a remote control in your hand playing Super Mario Bros. or Contra and Duck Hunt? Who would have thought that what our elders called a waste of time would turn out to be full-time career options of today. There have always been a few brave and bold souls that defied norms and went on to make professions of their passion. From acting and athletics to music and mechanical engineering, becoming successful at anything may not be easy but it definitely isn’t impossible and the same applies to a career in the gaming industry.
The global gaming market was estimated to be worth $152 billion by the end of 2019 with 45% of it, i.e $68.5 billion, coming from mobile games alone. The gaming industry had received over $9.6 billion in investments between 2018 and 2019 alone. It is believed that the market will surpass $200 billion by the end of 2023 and this is excluding in-game advertising revenues. Read that again and now consider, why wouldn’t one want to make a career in the gaming community? If you have the talent, passion and drive you could definitely make something of it. For safety’s sake, keep in mind the afore mentioned stats when convincing your parents about your decision.
There’s several options you could choose from when deciding how you want to make money from the world of video games. In addition to the technical development of games – designers, animators, writers, sound engineers, etc. – there is an increasing amount of content generated for distribution and consumption that you could indulge in. Consider these as career options in the gaming industry:
1. Professional Streamer
Think of it this way, professional streamers are gladiators of the gaming world and platforms like Twitch and Youtube are their digital Coliseums. We have always enjoyed watching people compete with each other, it’s no wonder then that the Superbowl is considered the most watched spectacle on television in the world. The gaming community shares similar emotions for professional streamers. It provides excitement for those who prefer to watch instead of playing and also helps enthusiasts improve by watching and interacting.
Wondering how to start live streaming? First off, you will require a PC gaming set up with hardware that is powerful enough to run your games. Then you’ll need a good webcam and microphone – audio quality should not be underestimated. Being able to communicate with your viewers is a vital part of the game streaming community. Also, some people prefer listening to streams over watching them. You will need third-party apps to transfer data to a streaming platform and lastly a stable internet connection.
However, becoming the next big thing as a streamer requires a lot more to be done. It may also take several months or years before getting the recognition you’re looking for, if you get it at all. Having said that, there are platforms offering specialised programs to help you become a professional streamer, depending on the package you opt for they provide services like coaching, handling your social media and scouting business opportunities on your behalf among other things – check them out.
2. Professional Caster
Like any other sports broadcast, E-sports also have their commentators – aka casters. They make sense of the gaming events by analysing and describing them for the viewers while making it exciting. Shoutcasting is an often overlooked consideration and serves as a good option for those who aren’t too hot as players but still want a career in the gaming industry.
Broadly speaking, there are two types of casters – play-by-play casters and colour or analysis casters. If you’re seriously considering becoming one, you should start by choosing which of these suit you better. You could switch and interchange to get good at both, which does have its advantages, but excelling in one is usually what rakes in the moolah. Another tip for starting off is choosing a game you’re familiar with, again, you could opt for other games as you progress.
Knowing the game and the gaming scene is utterly important but as a caster it’s equally important to have personality. Knowledge is fundamental, add to that a good voice and a good personality and you’re good to go. The downside is, this latter one comes naturally and there is only so much you can do to practice it.
Professional casters are well-respected in the world of esports. Their knowledge and charisma is what bridges the games and their viewers. You could take voice coaching sessions to improve your communication skills and pay to establish your name and brand.
3. Professional Player
Becoming a professional gamer is the most obvious choice of making cash, however, if you’re going to make it big you need to be very talented, extremely entertaining and of course disciplined. As a competitive player, you could earn some big bucks through tournament winnings and sponsorships. Just know that most of the money in the gaming scene goes to the cream of the crop so you will need to crack the upper echelons to get it.
Start by picking a game you’re good at and practice, practice, practice. Watch interviews, read magazines, consume more information from other competitors to learn new tricks, different approaches and tips for exercises, schedules and mindset. Being that gamers make a profession of their passion, one main concern for a lot of them is maintaining a social life. That balance must be maintained as priority with conscious effort.
Once you make it to the top, the glam and luxuries of professional gaming follows. To become a pro gamer you will need to analyse your gameplay to improve and evolve, optimise your schedule, keep your mind and body in the best condition and maybe even get a mentor on board. There are platforms that offer all the necessary knowledge, strategy, marketing support and coaching to accelerate your career.
4. Professional Team
Let’s say you’ve already hooked yourself up with the right hardware and other gear, you’ve already zeroed in on the game you’re good at and are getting better. The next step is to compete more and more and build a reputation for yourself. It’s also extremely helpful to network early on, you could use various forums for this. If you’re good enough and your reputation stands tall you may just be approached by a team to join. Just keep in mind that this is, once again, reserved for the cream of the crop.
The other option is to start your own E-sports team. Like all good things, it will take time to build but if you have the passion and mindset coupled with the right approach it is evidently achievable. Know that all great things have humble beginnings, even your current favourite team didn’t bloom overnight, they took time – count on it.
Again, once you’ve identified the game you want to pursue being a legend at, start looking out for team mates. A good place to begin would be some of your own gamer friends, just know that looking for players as dedicated as you at your preferred game may not be easy. As mentioned earlier, networking helps – attend local gaming events or check out local gaming centres. Ask around, put up posters announcing recruitment to get the word out, if need be. If you happen to get a better response than you expected, have tryouts but know that skill level isn’t the end-all in building a team. There are other intangible qualities to keep in mind when picking team members – for example passion, dedication, open mindedness and the like. The journey to sports glory is long with several ups and downs, you and your team members need to be able to persevere through it all. It’s no good having someone who’s great at sniping but loses hope in the face of tiny adversities. Also, it does help to have a few players more than you actually need. It comes in handy if and when someone calls in sick or leaves the team abruptly.
Once you’ve selected a team to work with you’ll need to set up an infrastructure to play, practice and work. Make sure your gear is as top notch as you can afford. Have a solid internet connection and very importantly rent a good team game server. Practicing together is what will create a super bond and help each one learn the other’s style, strengths and weaknesses. Determine a training regiment, including physical and mental exercises and create a team schedule.
Now on to softer points that help from a business perspective. Being the best at anything requires financial input and loads of professional help outside of your core domain. For example, all teams and individual athletes have a clique of people like managers that take care of things outside of gaming. Brand building, contract negotiations, seeking sponsorship opportunities and things like that take up a lot of time and do get murky. After a point, these things require full-time attention and it becomes impossible to balance it with your gaming practice sessions and what not. Hence, it only makes sense that you look out for an agent or agency, pay them and let them handle it. You could opt for programs that help with managerial tasks, looking after your social media and website platforms garnering more attention and followers turning your team into a household name in the esports arena.
5. Professional Influencer
If you like being on social media and have love for the E-sports world as well, you could blend the two to make a career of it. Given the global growth of the gaming industry, brands and publishers are constantly on the look out for fresh ways to tap influencer marketing. Be it PC, console, mobile games or even gaming-related products, marketing campaigns are produced on a global scale all year round.
As an influencer you need to show gaming enthusiasts the E-sports world. You could do this via game walkthroughs, reviews, tutorials, montages or challenges. Engage and interact with your audience to understand their interests, this will help amass more subscribers and hopefully turn them into loyal fans. These qualities attract brands more and just FYI social media influencers can get thousands of dollars for a single post.
Map out a content plan and strategy, not only does this help with becoming consistent but it also provides reliable results to study. By understanding what works and what doesn’t, you could then optimise it for future posts. Collaborate with other streamers and influencers, big and small, in your niche and outside of it as well. The benefits of doing this include brand sponsorship opportunities, brainstorming and trading of information on the community and scene.
If you’re bent on making it as a gaming influencer you could consider using marketing agencies or platforms. They help gaining access to industry experts with relations to top brands and other influencers. These platforms can attract brands and understand the nuances of meeting brand expectations. Some offer coaching sessions to become a successful influencer among a host of other offers as part of their packages.
No matter what you choose and whichever package you opt for, you will still need to put in the work. Be honest with yourself and set your goals accordingly. If you’re looking to break into the top ranks in the world it will take that much more investment in yourself. If not, simply having a career in the gaming industry may be cool enough for you. If so many others have found a way to turn their dreams into reality with hard work, dedication and practice – you could too.