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Is being a gamer a job?

Gaming has exploded in popularity over the last decade, thanks in large part to live streaming platforms like Twitch and YouTube Gaming that allow anyone to broadcast themselves playing games. This has enabled some elite gamers to turn their passion into a full-time career through avenues like competitive esports, speedrunning, and being an online gaming influencer. However, there is still debate around whether being a gamer constitutes a “real job” or if it should just be viewed as a recreational hobby. In this article, we’ll examine the key questions around gaming as a career:

What are the main ways to make money from gaming?

There are several primary ways gamers can potentially earn income today:

Esports competitions – Playing video games professionally on a competitive esports team that competes in tournaments for prize money. Top esports players can earn six-figure salaries.

Live streaming – Broadcasting gameplay live on platforms like Twitch and monetizing it through ad revenue, subscriptions, tips/donations and sponsorships. Popular streamers can make over $1 million per year.

YouTube content creation – Uploading edited gaming videos to YouTube and earning money from the YouTube Partner Program based on views and subscribers. Top gaming YouTubers bring in multi-million dollar incomes.

Coaching/boosting – Getting paid to coach or boost other players in improving their skill level and game ranks. Coaching can earn $10-$50 per hour based on experience and game.

Tournaments – Winning money from small online tournaments or competitions at gaming events and conventions. These tournaments may award hundreds to thousands of dollars.

Sponsorships – Getting sponsored by gaming brands, equipment companies, or energy drinks to promote their products. Sponsorship deals can pay tens of thousands of dollars.

What skills are required to be a professional gamer?

To play video games full time as a career, it takes more than just being highly skilled at a particular game. Some key skills and attributes include:

Elite gaming abilities – Being in the top fraction of a percent in terms of competitive skill level. Having extremely fast reflexes and reaction time.

Extensive gaming knowledge – Having an encyclopedic knowledge of game mechanics, items, maps, characters, lore, etc.

Strategic thinking – The ability to rapidly analyze game situations and develop winning strategies. Thinking creatively to outsmart opponents.

Specialization – Focusing deeply on mastering one game and becoming an expert, rather than being a casual generalist.

Grinding – Being able to grind games for 8+ hours per day to continue improving skills. Having a high tolerance for repetition.

Teamwork – For esports, being able to collaborate and communicate effectively with teammates.

Entertainment value – When live streaming, being engaging, funny, informative, or otherwise entertaining for an audience.

Mental toughness – Having the resilience to recover from losses, handle criticism, and persist through slumps or plateaus in performance.

How much money do top professional gamers make?

The highest earning professional gamers can make millions of dollars per year through major tournament wins, team salaries, live streaming income, sponsorships, and merchandise sales. Here are some examples of top player earnings:

Player Game Estimated Annual Earnings
Ninja Fortnite $10 million
PewDiePie YouTube $13 million
Kuro Takhasomi Dota 2 $4.5 million
Hungrybox Super Smash Bros $300,000

However, earnings can vary widely based on game, popularity, tournament performance and more. The average professional esports player salary is estimated to be around $60,000. Many streamers and YouTubers make less than $50,000 per year from gaming. Overall, the top 1% of gamers make big money, while it remains a challenging career path for most.

Challenges of Gaming as a Career

While being a professional gamer may seem like a dream job, it does have some significant downsides and challenges:

Health risks of sedentary lifestyle

Gaming for 8-12 hours daily results in a very sedentary, stationary lifestyle. Sitting for prolonged periods can increase risks for:

– Carpal tunnel syndrome
– Blood clots
– Heart disease
– Weight gain
– Back and neck pain

Eye strain and headaches are also common issues. Competitive players are also under constant pressure to practice and perform, leading to stress and mental burnout. These health issues can shorten careers.

Lack of job stability and security

Competitive gaming offers little stability and security. Esports teams can drop players who underperform. Streamers and YouTubers face the constant risk of declining viewership. Sponsorship deals can disappear. One injury or dip in skills can greatly reduce earnings. Few gamers remain elite for more than 5-10 years. Retirement savings and backup career plans are crucial.

Toxicity, abuse, and harassment

Gaming culture can be extremely toxic. Players face constant criticism, verbal abuse, sexism and other harassment from fans and trolls. Women streamers in particular deal with excessive objectification. This harassment can lead to mental health issues. Thick skin is a requirement of the job.

Work/life balance challenges

Competitive gaming requires sacrificing many aspects of normal life – from attending school consistently to spending time with family and non-gaming friends. Teenagers sacrificing education for esports face an even greater risk. Maintaining healthy relationships and habits outside gaming is difficult with this career.

Significant barriers to entry

It’s extremely competitive to become a full-time gamer. Less than 1% of gamers will play at a world-class level, get recruited to a top team, build a huge streaming audience or go viral on YouTube. Trying to go pro in esports without being truly elite is unrealistic for most. Becoming a gaming influencer requires personality, marketing skills and luck in addition to gaming talent. The odds are heavily stacked against success.

Is professional gaming a viable long-term career?

The potential to earn a large income from playing video games makes gaming seem like a dream career. But the reality is much more nuanced. Here are some key considerations:

Esports careers are generally short

Most pro esports athletes retire in their mid to late 20’s as their reaction times and skills decline. Pouring endless hours into gaming to remain competitive also leads to burnout after 5-10 years for many players. Unless they successfully transition to other gaming careers, earnings potential diminishes quickly. Saving/investing income is crucial.

Relying solely on prize money is risky

While major esports tournaments offer millions in prizes, winnings are concentrated heavily in the top few players. Unless competing at the highest tier consistently, prize money alone won’t suffice. Sponsorships, team salaries, streaming and creative content are safer revenue streams.

Streaming/YouTube success has uncertaintly

Blowing up as an influencer on Twitch or YouTube can open lucrative doors. But view counts fluctuate, platforms change, and fans move on to new personalities. Managing finances wisely during peak earning years as an influencer enables stability when popularity wanes.

Transferrable skills development is vital

To sustain a long-term career, gamers need to develop skills, education and experience that transfers beyond gaming. This could mean public speaking, video production, writing, coaching, analyst commentary or other talents. Planning for life after competitive gaming is essential.

Balancing gaming with life is crucial

Making gaming a healthy, sustainable career requires setting boundaries and integrating non-gaming interests. Prioritizing physical activity, social connections, learning and self-care can extend gaming longevity while building a meaningful life. It’s essential to cultivate identities beyond just “gamer.”

The bottom line on gaming careers

While becoming a professional gamer seems like an ideal career on the surface, it requires world-class talent, relentless work ethic, financial savvy, thick skin and exceptional life balance to achieve long-term success and stability. For the small number of gamers who achieve fame and fortune, many more end up disappointed when they can’t sustain careers.

Gaming works best as a career when approached strategically – with an eye towards the future, a back-up plan, and a willingness to expand skills and interests beyond just gaming. Loving gaming helps but isn’t enough. The players who thrive long-term approach it as more than just playing for fun – it’s a business and lifestyle built to last. With the right mindset and balancing act, professional gaming can be a viable career but it’s certainly not an easy or guaranteed path.