Professional gaming – a legitimate ‘sport’ or a way to push products?

The rise of professional gaming in the last decade has ascending in popularity at a rapid rate. What was once essentially a LAN party between a few hand picked elite players is now a global sensation. The land of opportunity and stardom is now presenting itself more than ever, with amateur players with dreams and aspirations completely hooked by the ‘sport’ that is gaming. The amount of fans and players shouldn’t be underestimated, this is no longer something nerds do when they should be doing more constructive with their lives. It is now a mainstream and socially accepted profession, with world championships and regular tournaments running globally. The rise is mainly due to sponsorship, more money has been invested and so it can reach out to a bigger audience. The big question is are the worlds gaming elite simply a marketing tool applied by some of the big accessory and game companies?

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The gaming elite and full time professionals have the dream life, they play games for a living, drink copious amounts of Mountain Dew and probably haven’t done a days work in their life. What impressionable young teenager wouldn’t want this lifestyle? They see these guys playing the same game they are and are getting paid money for it, big money in some cases. This creates dreams and influences their young minds. They want to emulate these guys, so they go about conquering the world. There’s one problem though, they are joined in there millions by other wannabes who aspire the same thing.

They are constantly being told what they need to buy and this is where sponsorship and marketing is pushed on to them. They will not become the worlds best without the most expensive headset, the latest graphics card, top quality PC for rendering videos. In fact the list is ever growing. Now, I’m not saying what the companies behind this are doing is wrong, it’s just it pushes products on the most vulnerable with the biggest dreams. I would guess these so called professional players are not even that good or skilled at a game, they have just promoted themselves in the right way and have enough of a following on social media/Youtube for companies to take an interest in them.

Team Optic celebrating their e-success
Team Optic celebrating their e-success

By my theory that means that regardless of whether you are the most skilled in any of the pro circuit games, your success or failure will ultimately be based on popularity, rather than skill. Look at any of the top guys and check out their social media stats. OpTic_NaDeSHoT has nearly half a million fans on twitter alone, most of them not in awe of his magical Call of Duty abilities but instead they follow him because they want to be him. He could literally recommend anything game related and his adoring followers will buy it, because he said it was good and this is where sponsorship comes in and gives him a helping hand. I estimate that there is a good few hundred thousand game players on Youtube all inspired and wanting the same.

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Gaming isn’t the only sport which does this type of product pushing. It is however one of the only sports which doesn’t apply a handicap to anyone, regardless of weight, age, gender, ethnicity etc. This means that anyone can do it, which really is the message which is being put out there. Is it detrimental to gaming? No, despite what I’ve already said people buying products and having dreams is what life is about. This whole article may sound like one big contradiction but is more a warning to would-be professionals. Enjoy the game, don’t be so competitive and don’t get spoon fed products, this will make you the real winner.

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