The Rise of Professional Video Gaming

Writer – Gabriel Bugarin

Since its conception, video games have been growing greatly in popularity. Even despite them almost falling out of the picture in the early 70’s, the golden age of video gaming that followed made sure that they were here to stay.

An interesting area of video games that rose out of this era is the occupation of professional gaming. It has taken off quite expediently in recent times, but is still fairly unknown to many.

“I have been competing in local competitions for about 10 years,” said Justin Long, a 26-year-old leaguesemi-professional gamer. “I’ve traveled all over the place for different events. A lot of people aren’t aware this is even a thing, but it is definitely bigger than when I first started.”

These events are really like those of any other competitive sport – they even refer to them as eSports – filling stadiums full of spectators, live coverage and playbacks by announcers, and merchandise is sold for those who want to represent their favorite teams or players.

Sean Johnson is a volunteer worker at many of these events, such as Comic-Con International, and he is also pursuing a degree in video game design at the Chapman University in Orange, CA. He shared his experiences with what these professional gaming competitions are like.

“People are really pumped, it’s just like a soccer game or something,” Johnson said. “People have the teams they’re rooting for, and the energy is high, it’s all really exciting. It’s a real sense of community too. Everyone that comes loves talking about video games, and I have met all sorts of interesting individuals. They come from all over the globe, after all.”

Many of these professional teams are endorsed by sponsors, some of these sponsors include: HTC, Coca-Cola, Logitech, Intel, etc., which shows that these professional gaming competitions are attracting some big companies.

“I’ve made thousands of dollars off of one tournament, and a lot of it depends on the game you’re playing too,” Long said. “But I’m just semi-professional. Some of these guys go all over the world to compete, and they are making anywhere from 100,000 to 1 million, with a bunch of variables involved.”

Many of these variables that contribute to the income of professional gamers comes from places like YouTube or Twitch.tv, where they players can get paid to advertise during their videos. There are options such as allowing people to donate money directly to the gamers.

The most played video game to date is “League of Legends,” garnishing 27 million players according to their website. The game consists of two teams of five members each, and each person serves a particular role – just like on a basketball court. The League Championship Series is the professional aspect of LoL. Tournaments are held in North America, Europe, and Asia. The 2014 LoL World series sold out a stadium that held 66,000 spectators, so these games speak to a large mass of people on some level.

“The League tournaments are the craziest,” Long said. “I hear people speaking different languages, see people of different nationalities – everyone comes to see the games. Plus, it is an art, ya know? Video games incorporate music, voice acting, writing, computer programming, art. It’s really like nothing else that exists on this planet. They have changed my life, that’s for sure. It’s obvious it has done it for others too when you go to one of these tournaments.”

During the 2015 Fall School year every Campus’s Student Life office many students can be found playing in tournaments of Smash Bros, Mortal Kombat or other multiplayer games. Stop in to Student Life and check it out.

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