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Esports: how to survive the industry

Esports: how to survive the industry

In 1972 a bunch of geeks at Stanford University held a video game competition. The prize was a year’s subscription to Rolling Stone  magazine and the game was Spacewar!, in which two monochrome spaceships attempt to shoot each other whilst avoiding the gravity well of a star. It was the first known organised video game competition.

Needless to say, things have moved on a little since then. Now there are established annual tournaments including the League of Legends World Championship, the Intel Extreme Masters and the Evolution Championship Series. In 2015 the global audience for esports was 226 million people. Whether you classify esports as actual sports or as mind sports (chess, anyone?), they are here to stay.

Over the last three years esports have undergone explosive growth. Gamers are going professional in increasing numbers, forming teams that aim to vanquish all competitors at video games, most often first-person shooters, fighting and real-time strategy games. Sponsorship comes to the very best from energy drink brands and computer hardware and software companies.

From an aspiring player’s point of view, the industry that has developed around esports is now on a par with the music and sport industries. Talent and skills aside, you need to be pretty savvy to make it and survive for any length of time.

For a start, you can’t be a jerk. Codes of ethics are developing in esports via both explicit tournament rules and unwritten etiquette. Example: it is considered good form to type ‘gg’ (good game) in chat when you are defeated. Several prominent players have been banned from competing for a year or more due to verbal abuse, repeatedly displaying a toxic attitude, and other unsportsmanlike conduct. Performance-enhancing drugs are rife in esports and drug testing has so far not been introduced, so keeping your cool while jacked up on Adderall is another skill pro gamers need to master.

Those wishing to enter the hothouse that is professional esports therefore need all the guidance they can get, and a new course from UC Irvine could be just the ticket to a sustainable esports career.

Overview of Esports takes learners through the history of esports and examines organisations and relationships within the esports community. The course is convened by Chad Smeltz, a former pro League of Legends coach and now one of the people who manages player contracts and team sponsorships. It therefore comes right from the heart of esports and Smeltz's take on the scene can be seen as pretty authoritative. This iteration of the course runs from February 05 to March 18, 2018.