How to Become a Professional Gamer
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For some people, hanging up the suit and tie to stay home and play video games for a living is a fantasy. But quitting your 9 to 5 job to become a professional gamer can be more than just a pipe dream — it can be your reality.
Although it isn’t as easy as simply logging on, playing for a few hours, and watching the money roll in, becoming a professional gamer is possible with enough hard work and dedication. If you have what it takes, being a professional gamer can be a truly rewarding career path.
In this guide we will go over the definition of “professional gamer,” why you might want to consider this particular occupation, what not to do, and how to start climbing the “esports” ladder and make money through professional gaming. Here’s what you need to know.
What Is a Professional Gamer?
A professional gamer is just what it sounds like: someone who gets paid to play video games professionally.
Often referred to in this context as esports (electronic sports), video games are a huge part of the average U.S. individual’s life, with 244 million people playing regularly.
Besides a paycheck, the difference between being a professional gamer and a hobbyist is just how committed and skilled you are. To succeed in this industry you’ll need to be clocking in hours and hours of practice on top of actual competitions and tournaments. A professional gamer will play like it’s their job — because it is.
Professional gamers don’t just make a name for themselves through winning prize-awarding competitions, they attract sponsors that pay gamers to endorse their products, from headsets to energy drinks. Committing to the career of professional gaming also means you might need to sacrifice certain things, such as the set schedule and steady salary and benefits of a regular day job.
Why Become a Professional Gamer?
Now that you know exactly what a professional gamer is, why should you take the risk and consider professional gaming as a career choice?
Playing professionally is a good idea for several reasons, from convenience to reward. Here are just a few.
The Market Is Higher Than Ever
The esports market has risen significantly over the past several years. Casual viewers and esports enthusiasts grew from 443 million fans in 2019 to 496 million in 2020 — that’s almost half a billion people with their eyes on professional gaming.
People are paying attention, and opportunities for professional gaming aren’t going to fade away anytime soon.
You Don’t Need Prerequisites
If there’s one thing that isn’t going to stop you from succeeding at professional gaming, it’s certification. Becoming a professional gamer doesn’t require a certain GPA, amount of schooling, diploma, or coursework finished — you just have to be (really) good at what you do.
It’s Achievable From Home
As long as you have the right equipment and put in the commitment and time, you can achieve this dream in the comfort of your own home. Through either online competitions or by gaining a large following on social and streaming platforms, you can really climb the ladder of professional gaming without getting stuck in traffic.
You Can Earn a Lot of Money
From hosting livestreams or uploading YouTube videos and getting donations from viewers and ad revenue, to winning cash prizes in gaming tournaments and competitions, to even partnering with companies for sponsorships, there are several ways to make a good (although not always dependable) living being a professional gamer.
You Can Do What You Love
When you do something you love, your stress levels will go down and your happiness will increase. Studies have shown that there is a link between individuals’ level of social support and mortality risk — meaning if you spend your time in a community you’re passionate about and engaged with, you’re going to live a longer and happier life.
If you love video games and have the opportunity to become a professional gamer, why not choose this path rather than a (potentially soul-sucking) office job?
What Won’t Work
Before we get into the steps you can take to help you become a professional gamer, let’s quickly cover what just won’t work.
Getting into professional gaming isn’t as easy as sliding on your headphones and hoping someone notices you on Twitch, or crossing your fingers that you’ll win big on some random online tournament site.
In reality, with around 5 million users recording their gaming lives on Twitch, you’re not very likely to gain an impressive following immediately, and most beginner online tournament sites will only pay out a measly $10 to $20 per win.
Be realistic. How good are you? Just because you can beat your friends at Madden or have a hot streak when it comes to Fortnite doesn’t mean you’re going to rank in the world of esports and be able to cut it as a professional gamer in the real world.
Steps to Becoming a Professional Gamer
In order to start bringing in money playing professionally, you need to take into consideration these next several steps to climb the professional gaming ladder to success.
Choose Your Game
Being a professional gamer means you have to narrow your scope and tighten your focus. You can’t simply know the ins and outs of every game — you need to find the game for you, the game that you know more than anything else, and one you can study to a T.
This is where the “jack of all trades, master of none” comes into play. In order to succeed in the professional gaming industry, you need to disregard that quote completely. Be a master of one.
Stick with one game to gain all the skills and experience necessary to really excel. Research which games have active platforms for professional gaming. Are you into sports and team games? Or are you more of a first-person-shooter (FPS) game person?
Pick a platform and choose a game that you enjoy and that will motivate you (and hopefully something you think you can get great at).
Practice, Practice, Practice
You need to get good at your game with a lot of practice and commitment. Like we mentioned before, if you are serious about making gaming your career, you need to treat it like your career.
The average professional gamer puts in 7 to 9 hours of practice per day. Put in the hours and don’t get discouraged if you don’t see immediate success.
Research Your Game
Once you’ve chosen your game and committed to practicing daily, you also need to research your chosen game for tricks, tips, and strategies that can make you a better player. Read online tutorials and game guides, and get your hands on whatever information you can.
Become a master of knowledge about your specific game. Every little piece of information you retain about your game can help you earn a competitive edge over your competitors.
Watch Streamers and Professional Gamers Online
In addition to reading up on techniques and strategies for your game, sit back and watch the pros do it. Watch professional gamers who play your same game compete in tournaments, their livestreams on Twitch, or their YouTube videos. This will let you see, in real time, how actual professional gamers play.
Check out how different strategies work in live play, and take notes on how you would do it yourself. This is also a great way to see the gear and setup popular professional gamers have, and how they interact with their community.
Use the Best Gear and Accessories
In order to play the best game you can, you need to invest in quality gear and accessories.
Great gear will give you a competitive edge over your opponents, and it will also help you prove to everyone that you’re taking professional gaming seriously. For example, if you were going to be a professional photographer, you wouldn’t use an old hand-me-down digital camera with low resolution — so don’t make the same mistake as a professional gamer.
Look for gear that is particularly created for professionally gaming. If your platform of choice is a PC, invest in a good mouse that correctly fits your grip and can move with ultimate precision, as well as a crisp, high-quality monitor. Your actual computer as well as your wireless network should also be first-rate so that you can avoid lagging or getting kicked off while playing online.
Regardless of if you’re playing on PC or console, an excellent headset is a must-have. Make sure your headphones are noise cancelling with first-rate sound quality, and that your microphone is also background noise cancelling, especially if you’ll be playing on teams.
Find a Network to Talk With Other Gamers
An important step in achieving your dream of becoming a successful online gamer is finding your community.
Join social sites, web forums, and other networks revolving around your specific game to connect with others. This can allow you to play with others for real life competitive practice, exchange methods and techniques, and learn from other gamers.
A community like this can also help keep you motivated and give you a place where you can ask questions and find support with other professional or up-and-coming gamers. Finding and being active in the right network can enable you to gain a following and build an online reputation for being great at your game.
Who knows — you could even be approached by someone for a sponsorship or other lucrative opportunity.
Start Making Money as a Professional Gamer
Start a Stream or YouTube Channel
Right now it’s easier than ever to start a stream on Twitch or create a YouTube channel to show off your skills and cement your presence in the online gaming world. Installing the software and starting to stream on Twitch is pretty straightforward, but it might not get you the money you’re hoping for. Popular streamers on Twitch earn their money mainly through their social following.
If you’re lucky enough to have a large following, cash can come in the form of fan donations, subscribers, ad revenues, and affiliate links. This type of revenue isn’t always dependable, though, and in addition to working hard at getting good at your video game, you’ll also need to become a master social influencer in order to keep your followers engaged and excited to watch.
Compete in Local Events and Online Tournaments
Another way to start making money through professional gaming is by signing up for live local events and online tournaments.
Research your specific game and your location and see what events are out there. You can sometimes find live, in-person events, where you can sign up to play in front of a crowd for cash prizes or cool gear.
If you aren’t looking to leave the comfort of your home (and perfect gaming setup), you’re also in luck. Online competitions and tournaments are common, and you can usually find your game of choice with low buy-ins. A normal online gaming competition won’t typically pay your bills, however, as most of these only have payouts of $10 or $20 at a time for beginners.
Even as a beginner, you shouldn’t be stuck playing for these low payouts. Drop-In Gaming is an online platform that makes becoming a professional gamer accessible for the average Joe. Sign up for free, create a player profile, search your game, and immediately enter into competitions and tournaments for big cash payouts.
Get a Sponsorship
Every one of these ideas is also an opportunity for someone who works for a relevant company to see you, like how you play, and pay you to be a sponsor by endorsing their products.
The better you are, the bigger your following — and the bigger your following, the more likely that people are going to want you to showcase their products. Sponsorships are probably the most stable and reliable way of making money consistently in the professional gaming world.
Check Out Drop-In Gaming Today
So, do you have what it takes to be a professional gamer?
Create a player profile on Drop-In Gaming and enter the world of competitive online playing. Drop-In Gaming is a great platform for gamers of all skill levels to show off their skills, find a community, get the latest in gaming news, and have a shot at winning large cash prizes through bracket play, matches, and tournaments.