“What do you want to be when you grow up?” The answer to that question has changed dramatically over the past few years. A recent study by University College London and the OECD has found that one of the top five career aspirations for kids aged seven to eleven in the UK is now “social media and gaming.” While the same data for the U.S. is not available, the rise of vloggers and gaming stars based on the U.S. would suggest similar findings. And a huge part of this trend is e-sports.
In a nutshell, e-sports describes the world of competitive organized gaming. It includes tournaments of games such as Fortnite, Counter-Strike, Overwatch, as well as actual sports games such as Madden NFL, just to name a few. During these events, players from all around the world compete individually or in teams and the prizes range anywhere from $1000 to $25 million.
However, winning a sizable prize is harder than it sounds. Competitive gamers spend hours upon hours just practicing in front of a computer. As e-sports enthusiast, Amir Fleurizad puts it, to become any good to the point of competing in video game tournaments, it requires a lot of discipline and hard work.
“You can play for weeks and not gain any improvement if you don't have someone to tell you what you're doing wrong,” explained Fleurizad.
While for many, playing video games is a way to disconnect from the world and unwind, for competitive gamers, playing games is their job. And one that can be extremely profitable, but at the same time, extremely frustrating.
“I think the most important thing when practicing for a tournament is to have a positive attitude because chances are, you're going to lose a lot,” said Fleurizad.
Just like with regular sports, only a select few around the world can actually make a living out of playing professionally. But not all hope is lost. According to Radio 101 reporter, Gabe Tappe, some of the skills a competitive gamer develops are not only transferable but sought after in today's labor market.
“Dependability is a must--somebody who is going to show up and actually get the job done. We've seen individuals outperform their peer groups simply due to the fact that they showed up to work every day and did their job,” explained Aaron LaVallee, an associate at a local Executive Search Firm, LaVallee and Associates.
Just like practicing for a video game tournament, the job market requires people who are willing to put in the time and effort to get the job done. But when looking for a job, not everything is attitude.
“What employers are looking for is how your skill-set adds value to their organization. In terms of hard skills, such as: have you managed a data center before? Or, can you program in java?” said LaVallee.
While gaming at a competitive level could help develop some of the skills employers are looking for, there's no replacement for hard skills earned through traditional schooling.
For many kids out there, competitive gaming, just as playing any sport, could be a good hobby to have. It will teach them discipline, team-work, and help them deal with failure among other things. But just like any other sport, when it comes to make it into a professional career, it's always good to have one or even two back-up plans.