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Job Opportunities in esports




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One of the most important things we think about while growing up is career trajectory. You have kindergarteners bring their parent to school and talk about what they do for work. Some schools will have career fairs and invite alumni down to explain how they got in their field. The challenge for someone under 18 is having an idea of what they could excel at without real life experience.


The greatest thing about the 21st Century continues to be the incredible amount of opportunity that people have access to. With the internet and the global connectedness of our world, we have the unique opportunity to educate and promote these opportunities to a wide audience. I'm very glad that I am in a position where I can help passionate kids pursue what they love!


What I want to touch on in this article is three unique paths that people who love gaming can take in esports. I will also talk provide some nuance to the discussion about what are the main challenges associated with each path and what I would recommend for best practices if you want to get involved.


Professional gaming

It is much more common and socially acceptable to play video games professionally. The average age of someone playing in a franchised league like the Call of Duty League or the Overwatch League is somewhere between 24 - 27. Most professional gamers tend to go pro around 18 or 19.


Becoming a pro player isn't as easy as traditional sports, because there aren't exactly concrete talent pipelines and combines like we have in basketball or football. This makes becoming a pro challenging depending on your ability to get noticed by higher level organizations.


The benefits

Pro gaming comes with a lot of upsides. You get to do something you love for work everyday, you get to travel internationally if your game hosts tournaments in other countries, and you are often paid pretty well. The minimum salary for most esports players is around 50k-60k a year, with a majority of pros making more than this figure.


In addition, while the regular work day might be demanding, you get to enjoy off season away from competition just like traditional sports.


The challenges

There are a litany of challenges with being and becoming a pro player. I am going to be completely honest, professional gaming is not for everyone. I emphasize in many different parts of my business that while it is awesome to play competitively, I would highly encourage kids to learn unique skillsets that they can take to other workforces.


Here's a laundry list of general problems pro players face:

  1. The environment is incredibly stressful and it can be unhealthy to sit at a computer for 8-10 hours in a day

  2. Work days are notoriously longer compared to traditional sports because you don't suffer the same physical exertion

  3. You are a contractor, not an employee. This means you give up certain rights and don't have the same benefits that regular employees in the workforce get.

  4. You are subject to highly competitive standards and might lose your job if you are unable to produce results. In most industries, you won't get fired simply because you are doing your job -- you are expected to exceed all the time as a pro player.

  5. You typically have to sacrifice your social life. You don't typically get enough time to have any meaningful relationships or hang out with friends on the weekend.

  6. As mentioned before, becoming a pro is hard. Being in the top rank isn't enough -- you have to actually produce results in high-stakes competitions or find a spot on a top team to become a pro. You might be the most gifted player in the world, but you need to be able to help your team win and produce results to move up meaningfully.

Now, before I scare anyone off, I will say that not everyone experiences all of these problems. Esports is getting much better at producing work-life balance, and even contractors are still subject to fair treatment under federal law. The point of this list is that you should understand and seriously think about if you are ready to deal with all of these points at some point in your pro gaming career.


Summary

If you are an aspiring pro player, I encourage you to take on the challenge but accept that this is a risky endeavor. I personally recommend giving college esports a try before moving to pro play so that you can better adapt to the competitive lifestyle. All things aside, I do think it is a viable career path if you possess the mindset and personality!



Management and production

Esports has a very large need for a stable foundation for both teams and events. Teams need the following roles:

-team managers

-general managers

-coaches

-assistant coaches/analysts

-sports psychologists/mental wellness coaches


In addition, the companies that host esports events have lots of jobs to fill. These include:

-commentators

-play by play casters

-analyst desk personalities

-Event production staff -- from lighting, to streaming, to sound management, to camera crews, to broadcast engineers

-game referees


With a list as large as this, it is not as easy to define the benefits and challenges because they vary quite heavily. Generally speaking, the clear benefits of both sides is being able to work in an organized team environment and travel to each event location. That said, many of these positions take years upon years of experience to achieve due to the fact that there's likely less roles to fill and each role is fairly unique.



traditional roles within esports

There are a ton of traditional jobs that you can get and just incorporate your skills into the esports industry. If you have seen my article on "debunking esports myths", you know that there's a few roles in particular that have rose sharply in the past few years. I'll cover some of these and explain how you could get involved:


1) Marketing

This is one of the most exciting roles outside competition in my opinion. If you like the idea of creating marketing funnels, designing graphics and media in photoshop, or engaging with the esports audience in many unique ways, then you might enjoy working in a marketing role.


Business marketing is a highly popular major route that you could obtain in college. That said, you could very easily learn a lot of skills simply through sheer practice! Anyone who wants to get into marketing, i'd highly advise you create projects that clearly demonstrate your skills. You might work with a client to redesign their website to enhance their lead generation or conversion. Maybe you're more interested in graphic design and you could create some highly attractive promotional materials. My emphasis would be show off your work, because it will speak for itself!


2) Engineers

Behind every creative website, search algorithm, downloadable app, etc., there are tons of experienced engineers. This is a more specialized role that requires a lot more experience, but the rewards in terms of salary and benefits are incredible. Game publishers often hire all sorts of engineers to test for quality assurance on their game software, and even hire broadcast companies to manage every aspect of their live events.


If you prefer working on live production, we mentioned broadcast engineers prior as something you can lean more about. There's also electrical engineering for ensuring that events run smooth without any outages or circuit breaks. Software engineers are also needed to write code for back-end programs and sites. The bottom line is that event production and management of software solutions for companies will always be jobs for engineers.


3) Sales

Every industry needs someone who can help their company or organization sell goods & services. In esports, companies will often hire sales leads and managers to help collaborate on partnerships, sponsorship and brand deals. Raising capital through sponsorship is one of the biggest means of revenue generation for gaming companies. As such, there's a large emphasis on building teams that have experience negotiating deals with brands and putting together partnership decks.


It is very easy to get involved in sales, simply because everyone who is in business has to sell something. To start out, you might get a part-time job at any sort of restaurant or retail environment to work on your personal conversation skills. After getting some intermediate experience, you could start working yourself into a role that is primarily driven by sales goals. Once you have real-world sales experience, you've unlocked the ability to transfer your skillset in countless amounts of places in society.


Summary

The job market for esports continues to be wide and full of opportunities. If you are interested in any of these roles, college esports gives you a lot of opportunities to get your feet wet by practicing with either experienced leaders or learning as you go. Personally, in my 4 years of college, I was able to touch many of these roles meaningfully in tournaments that my college hosted!

I would encourage all my readers to deliberate on your values when it comes to the workforce. Do you enjoy flexibility, or would you prefer stability? Do you like managing people, or are you better suited to follow directions and work under others? Answering these will help you map out much better where you want to be!

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