From speed runs to achievement hunting to climbing the online rating ladder, gaming is competitive. It always has been, and always will be. Whether you’re going for the high score on Tetris, Candy Crush, or Pacman, or the fastest playthrough of the original Mario series, someone will always be trying to outdo you, improve and get better.
At no time is this truer than when gaming becomes a career – or rather when you’re trying to make it one. Living off your hobby, or indeed becoming successful by it, is certainly a hard-won prize, but it’s one that many people aspire to. If you’re thinking of trying to play your way to success, here are five distinct career paths within the industry to consider and a basic outline of how to get started in each.
Going Pro: Tournaments, Practice and Cash Prizes
So, going pro. Being good at enough at a particular game that someone’s willing to pay you to play it. In a way, pro gamers have existed for years. Online games have been set up with a prize pool for the competitors to look forward to. Tournament style games are some of the oldest around still around, they’re games that have stood the test of time and continue to draw people’s interest. And now they’ve gone digital. Available as desktop games, browser games and as apps on your mobile, they’re now some of the easiest to access with the most obvious route to success: winning. It doesn’t take a huge investment to get started or practice, either. There are bonuses available, such as those on the Oddschecker website.
Alternatively, there’s MOBAs, such as the world’s most played game as of 2017: League of Legends. It’s World Championship prize pool is in the millions of dollars. Or how about a shooter? Or a real-time strategy game? Whichever you choose, it should probably be the kind of game you play already. Going pro isn’t easy. It takes a certain amount of talent and a huge amount of dedication. It certainly isn’t for everyone, but it could be for you – if you’re good enough.
Streaming. Your Life, Your Games, Your Breakfast
Gaming streams have been around for the better part of a decade by now, and they’re a cultural phenomenon that many can struggle to wrap their heads around. A player turns on their webcam, uploads a live feed of their chosen game, and gets to entertaining. Audiences watch as players play, and chat about it as they do so. As a streamer, you’re part presenter, part pro, part educational resource. Fans could be watching you for any number of reasons: you’re particularly good at a game they like, they want to learn how to play better, you’re funny, you’re charismatic, you have a certain quirk that others lack. The key to streaming is to be yourself. Cliché, but true. Stay unique, stay energetic, and get started right away. You’re presenting your own television show. The content? That particular game, and your take on it. Be someone to remember, and somebody to come back to in the future.
It’s important to remember both here and in the example above that nobody goes from zero followers to thousands of fans overnight, nor from an amateur gamer to a professional one. Be patient, and be consistent. Twitch.tv is the most commonly used service, so get started on that and begin to build an audience. Soon enough you’ll earn revenue from ads or subscriptions, but that monetary success won’t come right away. It will come with you setting a schedule: once viewers know when you’re on, what you’re like and what they can gain from watching your stream, your numbers will begin to rise.
Casting – Sore Throat Inducing, Hype-Building Presenter Madness
Playing games, either as a pro or as a streamer, isn’t the only way to earn a living from your favourite passion. You could commentate, too. More commonly known as casting, it involves pulling up a recording or a live feed of a game and informing viewers of the context and events, much as a football or baseball commentator might. This one is a little trickier than others, but just like them, it can be begun as a career rather easily. You’ll need to start casting as soon as possible. Small tournaments, big tournaments, your friend’s video of a great play they made the other day. Put yourself out there on platforms such as Youtube or Twitch, and get your name known. Be individual. Be knowledgeable. This one is for those who know a tremendous amount about the games that they’re playing and are keen to be involved in a community environment.
You’ll be linked to pro players – as their content will be the most popular for you to voiceover, and you could find yourself travelling the world as they take on tournament after tournament throughout the year. There are limited slots for casting for any given game, but there’s no reason why you can’t be the one to fill a place. Keep an eye out for auditions and make connections, and who knows what could happen?
Development – Music, Art, Graphics and Plot
If you love games so much you want to make a career out of them, why not simply make games? Perhaps the most versatile opportunity of them all to be found in this list, a tremendous variety of skills, talents and qualifications are needed when building any type of media, from indie games to the AAA best sellers. Are you a musician? A composer? An artist, maybe, or a storyteller? The game world is vast and fantastically diverse. Even if you might not be directly playing games for a living with this route, you’ll be intimately involved with their most inner workings. Degrees in game design, programming, creative writing or other artistic pursuits are your friend here. There are openings at game companies all over the world, all the time. Just keep your eyes open and get as much experience as you can and you might find yourself filling one of them soon enough.
You could be running social media for a particular brand. You could be creating concept drawings that go on to become fully realised worlds with 3D textures and beautiful graphics. A career in gaming doesn’t mean just consuming gaming products, it means creating them, in this case in a very literal sense.
Journalism – Games Coverage From the Sidelines
Interviews, rumours, retrospectives and press first access: being a journalist in the world of gaming certainly has its perks. You’ll be playing games before they’re officially released to the public, attending conferences and expos, and generally being a voice of criticism and praise, depending on the game at hand. Once again, a unique skill set is needed here. Time management, writing to deadlines, playing games not as a consumer, but as a critic and an expert. Your opinion and voice will be many’s first impression of upcoming titles, and a certain weight of responsibility comes with that.
There are several routes you could take to becoming a games journalist of any kind. Perhaps you could start your own Youtube channel and produce video reviews there? Or apply for a position at a specific gaming magazine or website. Either way, this is a great route to becoming more directly involved with gaming if you find its a hobby you do eventually want to turn into a part or all of your career.
Not all the paths listed here are feasible for everyone, but one or two might fit the bill and you can start planning your way into the industry this very minute. Whichever one takes your fancy, work hard, stay passionate, and remember the reason you got into it in the first place.