How to Make a Living Playing Video Games
Play your favorite video games all day, hang out with game developers and get paid to endorse top of the line gaming hardware.
Sounds like a dream come true, right?
As a professional video game player, you can have all of the above, and then some more. Making a living playing video games isn’t just the stuff of fantasy any more. With the growth of eSports and video game streaming, it is entirely possible to not just survive, but thrive playing video games.
Follow the steps below to make a living as a pro-gamer:
- Pick the right game
Not every game is conducive to professional gaming.
The current eSports roster is filled with FPS, RPG and strategy gamers. To maximize your chances of making it as a pro-gamer, you have to become an expert at any one of the following games:
- Dota 2 ($28.7M in lifetime prize money)
- League of Legends ($21.1M in lifetime prize money)
- Starcraft II ($15.9 in lifetime prize money)
- Counter-Strike ($10.5 in prize money)
- Starcraft: Brood War ($6.4 in prize money)
Other games with a viable future for pro-gamers include WarCraft III, Smite, World of Warcraft and Call of Duty.
Of course, you must understand that the more popular the game, the higher the competition. A game like Painkiller might not have dozens of multi-million dollar tournaments, but it also has significantly fewer players.
The key is to pick a game that you enjoy playing, has a healthy amount of tournaments, and moderate amount of competition. For this reason, we recommend that you add games like Halo 4, WarCraft III, and Counter-Strike: Source to your list as well.
- Get some training
The best way to increase your chances of becoming a pro-gamer is to undergo training under another professional.
Fortunately, there are now dozens of training schools and courses that will teach you the same tricks and strategies as used by professional gamers. These range from small, online-only courses to in-depth studies at top universities like NYU (which offers a course called ‘Intro to StarCraft’).
To get started, head over to Google and do a quick search for “pro-gaming courses in [your_city]”. If you live in a big city, it shouldn’t be too hard to find an affordable course nearby.
- Get the right equipment
You can’t hockey without a hockey stick, and you sure can’t be a pro-gamer without the right equipment.
For pro-gaming, you will need a powerful laptop or desktop computer. Consoles are a no-go since there are only a handful of console-only tournaments. You don’t need the fastest computer in the world, but it should be good enough to play Dota 2, League of Legends, Call of Duty and StarCraft II at a smooth 30+ FPS frame rate.
At the very least, your computer should have the following:
- Intel Core i5 or i7 processor
- 8GB or more RAM
- Nvidia GeForce or AMD Raadeon graphics card. GeForce GTX 970 and Radeon R9 270X are highly recommended for gamers on a budget.
- A large, 24” monitor, or laptop with at least 17” screen.
- Gaming mouse, keyboard.
- Headset for communicating in-game.
- Join a pro-gaming team
No one makes it in pro-gaming on their own. To truly succeed, you need to be part of a professional gaming team. This is not just desirable, but is actually a requirement for most tournaments.
Your best bet of joining a team is through the games themselves. Play as an individual online, then once you’ve impressed enough people with your skills, ask them to join your team. Sometimes, teams looking for good new players might even scout you.
You can also apply to the many professional teams online, such as Evil Geniuses, Fnatic or Alliance. Membership to these teams is highly selective, though there are always players dropping out. Most teams maintain a social media presence of sorts. Keep close tabs on any openings and apply as soon as you find a spot.
- Join a tournament
Once you have the right equipment, training and team, it’s time to take the final leap and compete in a tournament.
A professional video game tournament is like any other sporting event. You will have players practicing their pre-game rituals, referees making sure that players follow the rules, sponsors and commentators giving a play-by-play account of your exploits.
Start small by going to a few local tournaments. Then, once you’ve acquired some experience, graduate to bigger events and rake in those six figure salaries!