If playing video games professionally sounds too good to be true, then you’ll be happy to know that it’s a real career path with many opportunities. Professional gaming, also called Esports, has become a serious business, projected to generate $1.5 billion by 2023.
The journey to becoming a professional gamer takes a lot of dedication, patience, and talent. Even if gaming is your passion, this career isn’t for everyone. Gamers have the ability to bring in huge audiences and take home large cash prizes in the millions, so naturally this is an attractive path for those interested in video games.
So, do you want to know how to become a professional gamer? Keep reading, we’ll cover the step-by-step process for you.
What is a Professional Gamer?
If you’ve never heard the term “professional gamer” before, you may be scratching your head at what it is exactly. A professional gamer plays video games full time and competes in tournaments in order to win prizes. Pro gamers are also paid by sponsors or advertisers when they play, and sometimes they’re part of a team of players where they earn money as well.
Unlike people who work in the gaming industry, like designers or game testers, professional gamers focus on playing the games and not creating them. Professional gamers clock hours by studying and practicing their game of choice until they master it well enough to participate in competitions. They often spend hours practicing and develop important skills like hand-eye coordination, quick reflexes, and problem-solving skills.
If this sounds like something you might be interested in, the next step would be to learn how to become a pro gamer to see if it’s for you.
Should You Be a Pro Gamer or a Streamer?
Before you start planning your career as a pro gamer after seeing people do it online and on social media, you should know that there’s a difference between being a pro gamer and a pro streamer.
Pro streamers post streams and live videos on platforms like YouTube or Twitch in order to grow their channel and following. Unlike a professional gamer who makes an income from sponsors or teams, streamers make money by broadcasting gaming online and collecting money from ad revenue.
Anyone can be a pro streamer with enough of an audience, so this field is more open to amateurs. Additionally, as a streamer, you’re your own boss so you can set your own schedule, which is another advantage.
Still, professional gamers tend to bring in more revenue than streamers.
How to Become a Professional Gamer: A Step-by-Step Guide
If you’re wondering how to become a gamer or where to start, let us walk you through it. The process may seem simple enough, but it involves a lot of effort, dedication, and consistency, so be ready to put in the work.
Step 1: Choose Your Game, Platform, and Genre
Generally, you want to stick to one game, platform, or genre when starting out as a professional gamer. With so many options out there for games and where to play them, it would be impossible to master all of them, so you need to narrow down your options.
First, choose a genre, like a strategy or racing game, for example. You can pick more than one genre, but again, the more specific you are, the better chance you have at succeeding.
Next, you want to pick your platform, such as PC gaming (which is the most common option in competitive gaming), or other consoles like PS4.
Then pick a small variety of games that you want to focus on. Some popular esports games include Dota 2, League of Legends, Fortnite, StarCraft II, and more.
Step 2: Practice Makes Perfect
Ok, maybe not perfect, but getting as close to it as you can is essential if you want to make it as a professional gamer. Watch what other professional gamers and streamers do, dedicate your time to researching game strategies and testing them out, and make an effort to really optimize your gameplay.
You can always find tips, tutorials, or guides online from other gamers that you can use to strengthen your skills in a certain game.
Step 3: Join a Gaming Community
Getting good at your game is only half the battle. You also need to get noticed. The best way to do this is by joining a gaming community, whether it’s online or in-person.
Networking isn’t the only advantage to joining a community, but you’ll also meet a lot of like-minded people who can help and support you on your journey to becoming a professional gamer. You’ll be able to practice together and learn from each other so that you can grow your skills.
Step 4: Invest in Good Gaming Gear
This one may seem obvious, but to help you excel in gaming, you need the right gear. You don’t need to buy everything at the same time, especially if you’re first starting out, but you want to make sure your gear isn’t a hindrance to your gaming.
Here are some of the things you should consider buying or upgrading:
- A gaming PC or laptop
- Mechanical keyboard
- LED monitor
- Gaming mouse
- High-quality webcam and microphone
- Comfortable gaming chair
- Surround-sound speakers
No one said becoming a professional gamer is cheap, but having these items at home will make you more comfortable using them at competitions, so it’s a worthwhile investment if you decide to go down this path.
Step 5: Attend Local Gaming Events
You’ll probably discover a ton of gaming events when you join a community. Being an active member of the community involves attending local gaming events either as an observer or a player. You need to start somewhere, so the best way to get practice and to begin climbing the ladder is by attending small local events and then slowly building yourself up.
Step 6: Find a Team
Once you’ve built up a reputation from winning smaller or more local competitions, you’ll be a prime candidate for joining a gaming team. You’ll need top-notch skills and a good network of people before you’re invited to join a team. You can also reach out to teams online or in-person to see if there’s space to join. The better you are at your game, the more likely you’ll be asked to join a team, so there’s no such thing as too much practice or preparation.
Step 7: Compete in Leagues and Tournaments
After making the rounds at local gaming events, it’s time to start going pro. Attend some professional tournaments to observe other gamers in their element, and when you feel comfortable and ready, throw your name in the ring to compete as well. Start to grow your following and status as a gamer in these tournaments that happen both online and as in-person events. Keep your eye on the prize and focus on winning so that you enter into even more competitive tournaments.
Step 8: Get Sponsored
Of course, much easier said than done, but a sign of a true professional is getting a sponsorship. Winning tournaments is nice, but if they’re one-off events, you can’t rely on your winnings to become a steady income.
Instead, professional gamers earn their income from sponsorship deals from brands that pay you to promote their products by using their merchandise. After all the time and money you’ve invested into your gaming career, it’s finally time to start earning with your talents!
The Bottom Line
Now that you’ve learned all about how to become a professional gamer, you’re ready to start on your gaming journey. The most important thing is to be passionate about gaming since it’s a long journey from starting out to becoming pro.
If after learning more about how to become a pro gamer you decided you want to go in a different direction instead, consider game design or creation. You’ll need a degree for this, so we suggest starting out with a computer sciences degree like the one offered online and tuition-free by University of the People (UoPeople).