The time you and your kids spent playing computer games has always been thought of as time wasted, but thanks to the rise in technology, the internet, and computer gaming, the potential to make money in the online space is higher than it has ever been before.
A recent article on Wired.com featured some interesting predictions by Edward Castronova, a Professor of Telecommunications and Game Design at Indiana University Bloomington.
Castronova was quoted as saying that a new working class will emerge in the next 20 years that revolves around playing video games and pro gaming, otherwise known as esports.
In his white paper, Castronova said “playing games for money will come to be seen as a legitimate occupational choice for those whose skills are not valued by brick-and-mortar labour markets.”
On the one hand, what Castronova said could be seen as true. Games such as Eve Online, which has its own currency and economy, have proven that non-competitive games can turn a profit.
Compared to the amount that can be won in professional gaming however, it may seem like petty cash.
eSports Is Already A Legit Job
There is some room to argue against Castronova’s time frame, as it is definitely not going to take 20 years for esports to become a legitimate occupational choice – it already is one.
Take one of the most popular esports as an example, Dota 2.
One look at esportsearnings.com, which tracks player and tournament earnings, will show you that the top player so far has earned $2.8 million dollars. They also all happen to be professional Dota 2 players.
This is partly thanks to the game’s annual premier tournament, The International, which took place in mid-August this year. This particular tournament happens to hold the world record for the largest prize pool in esports history.
It has once again shattered that record in 2017, with the prize pool at the time of writing currently just surpassing $22.5 million dollars.
This means the winning team of five players will walk away with just shy of $2 million dollars per person, which is not a bad day at the office in terms of income.
The best part about this particular tournament is that it is funded almost entirely by the community itself, thanks to the International Compendium.
The Compendium can be bought and levelled up to earn more in-game rewards and, in turn, publisher Valve adds money towards the tournament for every dime spent.
Valve has created an ecosystem where the player-base itself helps fund the professional gamers. Although other esports may have different tournament structures and layouts, each one comes with their own base of professional players that are able to make a substantial living playing games.
Could Everyone Succeed Working As A Pro Gamer?
The success and increasing popularity of esports can be seen around the world, with even developing countries such as South Africa and Brazil having burgeoning esports markets of their own. The question still remains, will it ever become so popular that it becomes a working class of its own?
Again, it is fairly safe to say that it already is one, even if it’s still somewhat of a niche career.
Platforms such as Twitch.TV and YouTube have allowed gaming personalities and esports to expand and thrive. Thanks to the subscription systems and ad revenues of these platforms, there are many gamers around the world who earn their living making content.
All of these things have one thing in common though. That thing is what’s keeping esports gaming from becoming a more widely-spread working class job – you have to be entertaining in order to succeed.
Just like TV, people will watch, subscribe and give money to the people that they find entertaining. Having people watch an esport, or you playing a game, has to be entertaining in some way. If it’s not, that viewer will not be coming back anytime soon.
Gaming and esports is still a fairly niche market, just like any regular sport. Despite its rapid growth into legitimacy over the past few years, esports will unfortunately never be able to shrug off that particular trait.
So, Should I Quit My Office Job?
In some ways, what Castronova has said is true. As gaming continues to grow, the industry in and around gaming and esports does as well. In turn, this provides ever increasing opportunities to succeed in the online space.
The way the industry itself is currently trending however, it seems that although there may be plenty of money to be had in the gaming industry, it will by no means ever be equivalent to blue and white collared working class jobs.
Perhaps, with the introduction of augmented and virtual reality into the world at large, and as the technology improves, this may change. As it stands however, only the best will ever be able to make money in the world of esports.