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Robert Blake Bryant James Wilson Composition II 3/19/13 Is the Path to Video Game Pro Paved in Gold?

When a common gamer thinks of professional video gamers, an image of a beautiful life filled with playing the games they love to earn of a living appears. Now as glamorous as this idea is its unfortunately not entirely accurate. Some games offer much higher monetary value than others. So what games and tournaments will have you rake in the most cash? Video Games have evolved from a classic hobby to a $24 billion industry in 2011, according to the NPD Group (a videogame research firm)(Nieva,Video Gaming on the Pro Tour.) Professional gaming has evolved to an entire ordeal, complete with contracts, tournaments, and more fans than you can shake a controller at. Its just as in-depth as many professional sports in existence already. So is it crazy to get off the couch and turn your gaming into a professional career? Not necessarily, but with the expanse of organizations that host such tournaments, which organization should a player back and participate in? Well, the top organization for a plethora of video game tournaments is an organization aptly named Major League Gaming (or MLG.) MLG hosts 4 major tournaments a year and offers the highest payout per video game (the average earning is $20,000 for top prize, with the payout being higher or lower depending on the game being played.) Unfortunately these tournaments are usually team based and as such, the pay is divided among the team. On top of that expenses and fees can also dole out a steady drain on ones wallet after time. Now on the other hand, professional gamers can also seal in contracts with game developers like Bungie (the creator of the wildly popular

Halo series.) Contracts usually pay out much more than individual tournaments with an average earning of $12,000 to $30,000 a year. But as the video game industry goes, there are only about 40 professional players can afford to live off of gaming alone, earning $100,000 to $200,000 a year. And what games do these high earning players play, you ask? Well as you can figure, the more known a game is, the better the pay, so FPS (first person shooters) like Halo and Call of Duty will almost always have some of the largest pay-outs. Halo and Starcraft II hold the highest possible earnings for tournaments (averaging $50,000+ earnings a tournament.) Now what gives me the ethos to talk on the earnings of video game tournaments, and the life of a professional video gamer? Well I am a low key professional gamer, as in I am nowhere near ranked as high as Tsquared or Lim Yo Hwan but I have been to numerous professional tournaments for Call of Duty and Soul Calibur 5 (an action fighting game) and have won about a 1/4th of the tournaments I have entered (Ive entered 62 tournaments.) In total I have earned roughly $8,000 in 3 years from winning these tournaments. Soul Calibur 5 tournaments had 55 participants on average and the COD tournament participants varied wildly from 100 to 400, based on the tournament. And as it is apparent I cannot make a living form these earnings, it definitely does not hurt. The atmosphere is so unlike anything Ive experienced before. To meet in a place to play other players that love the game as much as you do, build friendships, and actually earn money from doing something you love to do is just a magical feeling. As much as I would love to become more a professional gamer, the lifestyle is rather unpractical with the highest ranked pro players playing an average of 8 hours a day (Nieva,Video Gaming on the Pro Tour.) and not having jobs as their time is devoted to the game. Now that is a bit extreme but it truly is not easy and the dedication required is on the same level of any athlete.

Unfortunately the pro gaming world is a hit-or-miss opportunity. Either you make it and you make it big, or you are stuck in obscurity. But it is a gamble that can pay off in a big way. Now usually first person shooters lead the pack in popularity and highest income, but many games have significant incomes. Starcraft is the most popular gaming in Asia for tournaments and have 20+ important tournaments a year. Average earning for first prize is $20,000. The good news is that teams are very small or non-existent so most of the earnings are for single players to pocket rather than divide among a group. Now I will explain what these games are and what makes them so popular. We will start with Starcraft, as it is the most predominate game in tournaments. Starcraft is a real-time science fiction strategy game set in the future 25th century. The player has a choice of 3 races, the Zerg, the Terrans, and the Protoss. The Zerg are an insectoid type race that strength comes in numbers and the speed of building warriors and structures-the Zerg incorporate the idea of Quantity over Quality.. The Terrans are Humans whose strength comes in the ability to adapt to a variety of different circumstances in-game and have the second fastest build times. As expected of humans, the access of weaponry such as tanks and nuclear weapons is apparent. The Humans are the most balanced of the 3 races though balance does not gurantee a victory mind you. The Protoss are a humanoid species that are very intellectually and technologically advanced and have the slowest build time. The Protoss incorporate the idea of Quality over Quantity. Each 3 races are very evenly balanced and skill is required to win a battle no matter what race is chosen to play as. The popularity of this game is (as I stated earlier) is primarily in Asia and is the top game for tournaments and money earnings on the planet (Robinson, Professional gamers get rich,.). What invites such tournaments is the skill and expertise that is required to play and win these

events. Starcraft is widely considered one of the most important games of all time due to the impact it has had on the video gaming world. Completely redefining the real-time strategy genre. The highest earning video game player of all time is Lim Yo Hwan and, you guessed it, he is a Starcraft player (Wikipedia, Li Yo Hwan,.) He averages 12+ tournaments a year and takes home and average of $20,000 a tournament. He is considered the best Starcraft player of all time and has consistently won every tournament he has entered with only the occasional loss to his rival Hueng Jo, the second highest ranked player in Starcraft. Halo is the next game Ill be covering. Halo is one of the most known video games and has also revolutionized the world of FPS, raising the bar of FPS everywhere. Halo is a first person shooter that involves a futuristic race of humans (warriors) named the Spartans, the protagonist being a Spartan named Master Chief. The Spartans are gentecially modified humans that were designed to be the ultimate soldier. They were built to help in a war with a bipedal species known as the Covenant. The Covenant are a zealous, religious species who have weaponry equal to the advanced humans (note that weaponry of both species can be used by the other.) The story of Halo is very complex so I wont dive into that, but the multiplayer is what truly defines the game. Usually the multiplayer involves Spartans fighting other Spartans (each team is colored differently) with different game modes available. In Halo 2 however, the player has the opportunity to play as a Covenant in certain game modes. The most played game mode in tournaments are S.W.A.T. and Team Slayer. SWAT is a game mode in which health is limited, the HUD (heads up display) is removed and headshots are one shot kills. Team Slayer has normal shields and health and the object of both is to kill the enemy a number of times to win. Team Slayer is the most popular game mode on multiplayer servers. The reason for this games popularity in tournaments is the personal and teamwork skill that is needed to attain victory. A

skilled Halo player can tell you that no matter how good a team is, they are much worse if the team does not communicate and work together. One of the highest earning pro gamers in North America is Tom Taylor (more known by his gamer tag Tsquared.) His primary game is the Halo series. With endorsements and prize earnings, Tom Taylor earns an average of $120,000 to $150,000 a year. He has also started up a company called Gaming Lessons whose use is to tutor prospective professional gamers on various video games, namely the Halo series (Wikipedia, Tsquared.) Halo also has one of the highest fan bases in the world with well over 25,000,000 players online. The final game I will cover is another FPS and one of my favorite games, the Call of Duty series. Now many people will say this game has bastardized the multiplayer gaming community, and warped their sense of what multiplayer should be, and I both agree and disagree. Call of Duty, regardless of the critics is the highest selling Xbox game franchise of all time. The second is Call of Dutys rival, Halo. Many players are strictly devoted to one or the other and will not play the other franchise (which is rather absurd in my opinion.) Call of Duty is a FPS that involves real military weapons, vehicles, and equipment. Now playing this game and being phenomenal at it will not mean you can be plucked out your house, placed on a battlefield, and be able to mow down Taliban operatives like pieces of paper. The story involves many different enemies (nations) and protagonists. Most often you are an American or an ally of the Americans; with the occasional mission in which you are an enemy of the Americans. The multiplayer (much like Halo) defines this game. The multiplayer has different game modes, a customization of classes that involves the selection of guns, perks (abilities that grant you bonuses like Sleight of Hand will increase your reload speed of your weapons and equipment usage), and kill or score streaks. The customization options at your disposal are what make this game different

from others. Every gun has many different attachments you can add ranging from suppressors to under barrel grenade launchers. This is what makes the game so popular for professional play. As is it easy to die (3 bullets typically kill an opponent) as well as the thought that must come into class sets and map memorization, it is easy to differentiate the good players from the bad. This game also is known for the anger it can cause to players with cuss words being thrown around as often as bullets are fired. Many tournaments will feature COD and are typically very popular and the average earnings for COD players are $25,000+ for the largest tournaments. Now what gives me the ethos to talk on the earnings of video game tournaments, and the life of a professional video gamer? Well I am a low key professional gamer, as in I am nowhere near ranked as high as Tsquared or Lim Yo Hwan but I have been to numerous professional tournaments for Call of Duty and Soul Calibur 5 (an action fighting game) and have won about a 1/4th of the tournaments I have entered (Ive entered 62 tournaments.) In total I have earned roughly $8,000 in 3 years from winning these tournaments. Soul Calibur 5 tournaments had 55 participants on average and the COD tournament participants varied wildly from 100 to 400, based on the tournament. And as it is apparent I cannot make a living form these earnings, it definitely does not hurt. The atmosphere is so unlike anything Ive experienced before. To meet in a place to play other players that love the game as much as you do, build friendships, and actually earn money from doing something you love to do is just a magical feeling. As much as I would love to become more a professional gamer, the lifestyle is rather unpractical with the highest ranked pro players playing an average of 8 hours a day and not having jobs as their time is devoted to the game. Now that is a bit extreme but it truly is not easy and the dedication required is on the same level of any athlete. Unfortunately the pro gaming world is a hit-or-miss

opportunity. Either you make it and you make it big, or you are stuck in obscurity. But it is a gamble that can pay off in a big way. So these are the facts about what games can offer the best payout for tournaments and the comparison between them. I would encourage any video game enthusiast to at least tune into a video game tournament coverage for games they enjoy (the web offers such events very often.) It is a fun and wonderful time. The professional gaming world may not be paved in gold but its paved in the fun you have (not to mention the tears of all the noobs you crush on your way.)

Works Cited

Nieva, Richard. "TOOL KIT; Video Gaming on the Pro Tour, for Glory but Little Gold." The New York Times. The New York Times, 29 Nov. 2012. Web. 09 May 2013.

"Professional Gamers Get Rich And Famous Playing Video Games." Professional Gamers Get Rich And Famous Playing Video Games. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 May 2013.

"Tsquared." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 05 Mar. 2013. Web. 09 May 2013.

"Lim Yo-Hwan." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 05 Sept. 2012. Web. 09 May 2013.