eSports Success Requires Extreme Circumstance
As I was considering the writing for this topic, I happened to come across an article that was already written on this subject. Victoria Rose had made an insightful article about why eSports may be for the privileged:
Being an eSports professional is often the dream of many young competitive gamers. I want to highlight in this article why the conditions that lead to being a pro are often of extreme circumstance, and that even people who are willing to put the practice in should reconsider pursuing this path. I have also written about why being a pro player isn’t worth it even if it is achieved:
League of Legends eSports Examined: Why Being an eSports Pro is not Worth It
It isn’t uncommon for our society to promote unrealistic beliefs. According to NPR, “26 percent of U.S. parents whose…
First off, I will say that being an eSports pro definitely requires a level of dedication and practice. What I want to reveal here though is that only under very rare circumstances is it viable for someone to end up on the professional path. The main purpose of the article is to showcase this reality, and show people that this is not a dream that they need to pursue.
I believe that too many young people want to be pro players or streamers, and I do not think it is a good path for many reasons, mainly due to its competitive nature and stress. If people can see that the path is clearly out of reach for most individuals, they may be able to let go of the unnecessary dream easier.
The primary reason that most people cannot become eSports players is simply due to time constraints. Becoming proficient at most eSports titles often requires 10+ hours of practice every day. Even if someone is willing to practice this much, it is generally not possible.
Most people have schooling or a job that they must attend to. This alone takes 8 hours of the day, plus the travel time back and forth. They may likely need to do additional tasks throughout the day like homework or household activities. Far less than 8 hours is usually left for most individuals after these activities are completed.
As a result, most often the people who have the most time to play are those that are allowed to live with their parents and play instead of going to school and working. This situation is simply not available for most. Some may be expected by their parents to find a career and become independent early on. If allowed to stay at home, parents often expect their offspring to work or attend school, especially if they are over the age of 18.
Especially with the rising costs of housing and living, most have to put their focus towards these costs, either by increasing their income through education or working additional hours. Attempting to be an eSports player at the same time often doesn’t fit into this, or even cross most people’s minds.
Most parents simply will not support the idea of eSports, and the constant stress of arguing with them will make the idea untenable for many. I do not remember the exact videos, but there were some videos that Riot Games released that covered the journeys of some League of Legends pros like Doublelift, and others in China. A common theme among them was that they often had fights with their parents, who may have tried to restrict their play time or asked them to focus on other activities.
The reality is that if most teenagers suddenly started playing 10+ hours of games a day, their parents would rightfully be likely concerned about their massive play time. Competitive gamers that live with their parents would likely have their equipment taken away or playing time restricted if they adopted the same practice regimen of eSports pros.
A certain degree of affluence is required in order to excel in eSports. Examining most pros, they tend to be from middle-class and upper-class families, but rarely from settings of poverty. Many parents in the world have difficulties supporting themselves, let alone a child or multiple of them.
Most high level players generally come from a setting where their parents are able to cover their cost of living, college, and equipment, and where their child will be able to remain supported with food, housing, and education regardless of what path they take. We for example see that pros generally come from a setting where they lived in a two-story house, had college paid for, and dropped out in an attempt to pursue eSports. Even with the economic aspect handled, many of these pros still had do deal with frustration and stress that built between them and their parents, due to disagreements about the eSports path.
Additionally, a gaming computer can represent a significant cost to families who live in poverty. If a parent chooses to not buy one, then it means that their child would have to wait until they were of working age, and then with having to balance work and school to afford one, the idea of pursuing eSports just isn’t likely. The quality of internet can also be a very important factor, as the wealthier will live in areas with higher quality of access.
The quality of internet can vary vastly in different locations, especially outside of larger cities. Internet companies often benefit from legislation that allows them to be monopolies, meaning that many places often have very few or only one option. Connections can be dropped constantly, leading to a poor environment for competitive gaming. In North American regions, the ping disparity to servers from different locations can be very large. Permanently playing at 1/20 or 1/10 of a second behind can prevent a player from developing to their full potential. This situation can only be remedied by moving, which most would see as unviable simply to gain a lower ping.
Furthermore, some nations have criteria that make them much more ideal than others. South Korea for example is a densely populated and small nation with high technological development. Many of the players their are able to practice on 5–10 ping settings, while also having access to high speed internet and LAN centers all around. Genetic factors may play a role, but there are many South Koreans living in the United States as well who generally do not achieve the same level of success. The reason that many of the top eSports pros come from South Korea is simply due to the circumstances that are readily available there. But yet even then the dream of being a pro player is only available to a minuscule amount of players.
Many dream of being an eSports professional, far too many I think. While I am against the dream for many reasons, the vast majority of people do not have the circumstances to even achieve it.
When examining the population of pro players, you can see that they are often in their early 20s. They usually require heavy financial support from their parents to be able to even make practicing a possibility. They were likely in a situation where they were able to play while others had to attend work or school.
The point of examining this in-depth is to get people to realize that being an eSports pro is not a dream that people have to hang onto. Even with the dream of being a pro set aside, some will play 10+ hours a day in the pursuit of achieving a certain rank or showing off their status.
I want to let you know that if you have had or had this dream, it is okay to let go of it. It is unrealistic, and if you’ve had troubles arguing with your parents or difficulty balancing a job or focusing on school while thinking about being a pro player, you don’t have to go through this anymore. When I realized that I didn’t have to constantly practice, follow patch notes, or think about the meta anymore, I was freed.
So if you failed at being an eSports player, being a famous streamer, or even achieving a certain rank, it’s okay. Because in the end it’s something that not many of us are meant to be. In addition, I believe that if we succeeded than we would be even worse off. Even as a pro player, a lot of things still come down to circumstance. Who your teammates will be, what changes in the meta will be made, if you have enough savings to sustain the lifestyle in times with no earnings.
Without the idea of being someone famous or known in our minds, it’s easier to examine if these games are truly worth playing. Would people put up with the constant toxicity and frustration they experience if they knew there wasn’t anything to be gained? I don’t think so.
The ability to analyze things is a circumstance that many of us non-famous people have that the pros don’t. We get to take additional time to reflect and think about what is right for us. As a pro player you’re constantly going to be expected to act a certain way by your team, the developers, and fans. I believe that many of them are trapped in something that they don’t know how to get out of, and I have much sympathy for them and would like to offer them assistance one day.
For now, I want us to think about the ideas of chasing validation and status. Game developers know that many of us crave these things, and so they keep pushing them onto us. Once we reject these ideals, we get to be free. You don’t have to be famous or a professional eSports player to live a fulfilled life. Just be you.