Will Gaming Evolve from Entertainment to a Job?

by on December 22, 2017

Back in the day, the only reason we used to play video games was fun. No matter if it was at the arcade, at home or at a LAN party, the reason why we gathered around the cabinets, consoles, and PCs was always to have a good time in the most competitive way possible at the time. But times change, and so do gamers. Today, for some, gaming has evolved from awesome interactive entertainment into a viable way of making money. Is this a good thing altogether?

Becoming a professional gamer is not easy. It takes hours upon hours of hardcore gaming for a player to reach a skill level high enough to have a chance to compete against even the least successful professional gaming teams. And while there’s no formal designation for them, professional gamers are turning into the athletes of the 21st century, and competitive gaming – eSports – is becoming a legitimate competition with fans, transmissions, official leagues, and such. The skills of pro gamers are recognized worldwide as “sports skills” – back in 2013, a South Korean pro gamer earned a US visa as an “internationally recognized athlete”, allowing him to enter the country.

One of the questions that might emerge in the coming years is how many gamers still play popular titles like League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, StarCraft, and other popular eSports titles for fun – and how many of them are driven exclusively by the desire to become professional gamers, compete in tournaments, and make a living playing? This is a question that feels similar to the one many have asked in the days of poker’s emerging popularity – there were surely quite a few players who registered accounts at various popular online poker venues dreaming to become the next Daniel Negreanu or Dan Bilzerian. Come to think of it, this is not a bad thing altogether – great personalities of other sports have inspired generations to become footballers, tennis players, runners, boxers, and so on.

But sports were competitive from their very beginning. Video games were not – they were entertainment meant for the player, not a spectator show and certainly not a public competition. And gaming was a form of having fun, not a job that’s done with compensation in mind.

An increasing number of game developers are now building games with an “eSports potential”. The latest iteration of Quake, for example, released more than 20 years after the original, is a multiplayer-only title, perfect for online competitions but completely ignoring the franchise’s glorious past. And there are many other examples.

Will eSports steal the focus? Will developers turn away from those seeking to play for fun and focus on competitive gaming alone? It’s hard to predict… but it’s certainly a possibility.

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