By Declan Chin
The video game and electronic sports (eSports) community has been growing exponentially since the early 2000s. In the 1990s it was impossible to sustain a career playing video games. Now, video game tournaments have sold out the Staples Center.
The main difference between eSports and traditional athletics isn’t just the absence of physical activity. It is the lack of support that eSports has. Many scoff at the idea of being a professional gamer. It’s common to see gaming regarded as solely recreational; the idea of gaming as a career is often dismissed. This dismissal is fairly prevalent and casual–but it can be detrimental to the goals and self-esteem of those who aspire to pursue gaming professionally.
Becoming a professional football player or baseball player takes hard work. Why is it assumed that gaming comes naturally any more that athletic ability does? How is being a professional athlete any more honorable than a professional gamer? Top level video game competitors spend countless hours scrimmaging against other professional teams and grinding their way into the top tiers.
Professional North American League of Legends players practice together for about eight hours each day. Most Korean teams are well known for practicing at least twelve hours a day and only sleeping for about four hours each night. Being able to stick to such a strict practice schedule takes extreme concentration and determination, something often overlooked by those who criticized pro-gamers.
In 2013, 32 million people watched the League of Legends World Championship Final. More professional teams are forming and the fan base is expanding. Becoming a pro-player is challenging as it is with the millions of players playing each game. What aspiring professionals need is support not just from the gaming community, but from their parents and peers.
Gaming struggles to earn respect because it is such a recently established field. It’s time to adapt to our quickly-changing society. But for some reason, instead, society has assigned arbitrary disapproval to this career path. Gaming goals are just as legitimate and realistic as becoming professional sports athletes, and dismissing interested individuals is more than disrespectful; it can dissuade them from following their true passion. In a society that stresses the importance of pursuing your passion, it is incredibly hypocritical to support select ones deemed “worthy.”