Taking Video Games From Battlefield To Bankby Joe Slepski
A while back, The Far Side cartoon creator Gary Larson had a panel called "Hopeful Parents", which showed a mother and father watching their child play video games. A thought bubble comes from both of the parents revealing them imagining prestigious job postings for professional video gamers.
Originally, it was meant to be a bit of a jab at the propensity of younger generations to be increasingly enamoured with video games. Those now antiquated viewpoints are being steadily silenced as technology continues to develop at an exciting rate. Presently, and for years now, people have been making obscene amounts of money playing video games. Taking what was once grossly misunderstood as a sedentary hobby, silently scorned by generations who found the technologies alien, video game platforms have become increasingly lucrative. Beyond this, social media and the burgeoning demand for social interaction in video games encourages this growth. From there, we've seen the universe of video games expand even further.
Of course, not everyone with a headset in front of a screen is amassing fame and fortune by being being a deadeye in Fortnite, but the possibilities are completely realistic. However, different from the hordes of people who think being a professional gamer is a walk in the park, it most certainly is not. We aren't here to guide you into being a professional gamer. What we can do is show you how make video gaming a profitable gig.
Starting slow and gaining momentum, you'll be able to see just how much goes into making gaming profitable and how much you'll need to invest to see a return. Let's dive in.
The rude awakening
Most avid gamers have a spare bit of confidence when playing their preferred video games. A great deal of people within that group have an excessive well of hubris that becomes palatable when headsets and microphones are turned up, sparking a bunch of over-the-air heckling. It's all part of the game.
But, you're serious about this. You want to sharpen your skills and learn how to make some cash while doing something you love, right? It starts with brutal honesty and a rude awakening that goes something like this:
As of June 2018, Fortnite had 125 million users around the world. Among those multi millions, how good do you think you really are? The fact is, you're probably not. The same can be applied to any game you play. You're in a pool of millions of people and, apart from anomalies, you're probably right around standard. Know that, respect that, and own it. Nobody can go for something hoping to be the anomalous minority.
Now that that's out of the way, go find your tribe.
Like minded, similarly skilled
You're in a unique position to take advantage of both social media and the connectivity of the video games you play. You will find like minded groups of fellow gamers everywhere. Seek them out and join their ranks.
To begin, finding people who play at your level and a bit higher is the ideal learning environment. You'll be able to build confidence, be humbled, and learn specific gaming nuances without being overly discouraged. Absorb and learn from advanced players, whether in real gameplay or discussion, then apply it to your own gameplay.
Sure it's fun to watch and play alongside professionals and other high level gamers, but it's much the same as watching professional sports and, somehow, playing alongside them. It can become more novelty than legitimately productive gaming. If you're looking to make money, it begins by honing your skills; this is the grunt work of gaming and there's no shortcut past it.
Test your mettle, join some tournaments
Video game tournaments come in a multitude of different variations. From local to international, people with different levels of expertise can enter tournaments to compete against each other.
You've been sharpening your skills over time, so get out there and join one. Maybe it's a video game tournament at your school. Perhaps it's a statewide one. Heck, maybe you want to to try and qualify for one of the bigs ones; the tournament experience is vital to getting your feet wet in the world of competitive gaming. It's that experience that will set you apart from the rest of the millions who are happy to sit on their couches and computer chairs. We're not saying that participating in tournaments is any better than the practice mentioned in the previous point. Having well-rounded knowledge of the competitive gaming industry will have you better poised to successfully take it to the bank.
Tournaments also provide a place where you can network in person. Not only will you be able to play in similarly skilled groups, you'll be able to see what professional gaming is like. Yes, professional eSports teams receive sponsors, salaries, endorsements, and advertising, just like professional football players or golfers. Popular professional players bring home millions of dollars from tournaments all over the world. We're talking eSports professionals who hire coaches and train, either independently or with teams, for upwards of 10 hours every day. The environment is cutthroat and most people who join tournaments like these aren't walking away with much other than an eye-opening experience and a refined definition of what being a good player really means. This doesn't mean you shouldn't try them out. Building experience in the tournament circuit is all about the journey, the process, the action of playing outside your comfort zone.
You surely can't thrive if you never give it a try.
Stream it, let the world watch
With social platforms like Twitch and YouTube Gaming, an increasingly popular way for gamers to interact with one another and make money is streaming gameplay. With one screen showing gameplay and another showing the gamer, in person, while playing, it brings a uniquely personable touch to what was formerly playing a ghost with a voice.
Lending gamers the ability to give commentary alongside gameplay, viewers can subscribe to interact with them via live chat. This presents two very lucrative aspects of the gaming universe: technical skill and interactive personality. The most famous and well-paid Twitch users take advantage of the combination of these traits. Streaming on real-time platforms, you stand to attract an audience that has the potential to generate revenue from ads, subscriptions, and donations.
Perhaps you've heard of Tyler Blevins. He goes by username Ninja and live-streams himself playing the battle royale game Fortnite. At 27 years old, he's amassed more than 11 million followers on Twitch, with his archived video views surpassing 300 million. From people subscribing to his live-stream channel, he receives more than $500,000 every month. He's been an active professional gamer for the last decade and dedicates his time to honing his craft. Nobody starts with numbers like that. They start hungry and interested.
People want to watch him because he's extremely talented and incredibly personable. In the gaming world he's an approachable celebrity. Twitch is the perfect place for you to take advantage of this. Stream your games (and be good at them), be approachable, gather a following, market yourself, and see what happens.
We've mentioned streaming and live-viewing platforms that offer archiving capabilities. Sometimes, playing live isn't for everyone. This doesn't mean your gaming skills should be discounted. Some exceptionally talented gamers who aren't into live-streaming for viewers use those platforms for creating gaming guides or giving lessons to interested viewers and subscribers.
Remember when we talked about the pool of millions of gamers around the world? Thousands and thousands of people are playing the same games, asking a lot of the same questions and trying to improve. You'll always find people looking for answers or searching for lessons, so take the games you're good at and create some educational content.
This is even a translatable skill outside of the active video gaming industry. Many people who become guide and walkthrough writers will start by doing it for themselves or a small audience, then self-promoting. Some of them go on to be noticed by video game companies or successfully apply to work with video game companies to develop comprehensive gaming material. This path requires that you not only be a good gamer, but a good writer and disseminator of information that's accessible to varying levels of gaming talent. Who's going to want to read or listen to poorly articulating guides that confuse rather than clarify? Don't haphazardly hack a guide together and expect it to gain you anything.
Starting off, if you think you're good enough at a game to build a solid walkthrough, go for it. If anything, it'll make you better at the game and give you a little more exposure. There are websites like Universal Hint System that will buy well-developed, complete walkthroughs. Be careful, though, because there are many other places out there that will accept your work and cheat you out of it. Scamming is unfortunately prominent in the gaming world.
Whether you're creating walkthroughs or live-streaming lessons, you have the opportunity to profit from crafting educational content with your gaming capabilities.
Selling characters, mining items
In certain game types, like Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) games, this is a relatively common practice. Years ago it was much more common to see, but developers caught on and many of them banned the practice. Others didn't and actually build auctions into their platforms.
To sell a character, you have to achieve mastery. Then, get that character to the highest level you can, outfit them with the most powerful gear you can, the whole nine yards. In short, max them out. Then, when you're done using the character, you'll be able to find people willing to buy that account directly from you. A kind of off-market pay-to-play type deal that gets the buyer a powerful character without really having to work for it.
Mining items is similar, but more monotonous and less lucrative. Some gamers spend all their time collecting gold or rare items, then they'll auction them off for real money. Instead of players buying maxed out characters, they can take shortcuts and buy needed items for much less. While this won't bring in fistsful of cash, some more technically savvy gamers successfully code bots to do the work automatically, even while they're not actively playing the game.
In fact, even more technically savvy gamers won't do this themselves, because it risks being banned from certain gaming platforms. Instead, they'll code bots and sell the bots to people willing to take the risk themselves. Mods, bots, item mining, and character auctions all sort of toe the line of questionable practices from platform to platform. Be careful when considering things like this, lest your own actions render you shut out from a game that you could've profited from legitimately.
Just because something is okay for one gaming community doesn't mean that it translates to another.
Not so easy sounding, is it?
"Streaming video games for a living is no less of a real job than that of someone who broadcasts sporting events, WWE wrestling matches, or even reports on news," one Twitch user, Matthew Beardsley, said to CNBC.
For some, this is their profession. They have clocked the hours to prove it, too. We feel like you wouldn't be here if you legitimately thought this was an easy path to take. Even if you're able to take advantage of all of these, the competition is fierce and people are more likely to give up on making some extra money, let alone pursuing it professionally.
But, you're not most people are you? Sure, it's a real job. Nope, it's not easy. It's not impossible either. With a little bit of internal drive and constantly keeping focused on the combined power of social media and video gaming platforms, you can definitely make some extra coins.
The video game market has become so much more saturated recently, that spaces among profitable video gamers are a little rarer and lower in demand. That's always something to be wary of as you forge your path, but we're not here to promise fortunes overnight. We definitely think that with consistent interest and a slice of your own unique personality, your time gaming can become profitable. It's just waiting on you to pull the trigger.
Disclaimer: I received a request from Gamefly to re-published this article. You can read the original article here.