There is more than the glitter and fancy lighting when it comes to esports.
Everyone knows that gaming and esports has become a booming industry for the past five years or so. Tournaments, conventions and annual championships took our generation by storm and it seems that there is nothing to stop this overtaking in the entertainment business.
People have thrown themselves in the phenomena. The number of game streamers are dramatically increasing across major streaming platforms – not to mention non-endemic platforms such as Facebook and Youtube embracing the trend. Professional and amateur leagues sprout here and there, and the attention being paid to top tier tournaments has never been this much.
But more to the life of famed gamers and esports athletes, esports operates just like other industries. Behind the glimmering lights and confetti are people who work behind the scenes, people who sit on expensive gaming chairs not to play games but to create content for readers and viewers, people who make sure that Twitch memers will have enough materials to spam about.
Careers more than the games
I started my esports career as an esports writer for Gamegeek.gg (now Mogul News) last January 2018. I wrote about significant esports events concentrated on Dota 2 and CS:GO by covering them online. This means that we have to adjust a lot of our time in order to keep in pace with the events if we want to deliver news the fastest way possible.
Add the fact that our team that only interacts online is composed of various people across the globe. This means we have to work with each other’s time zones whenever we have meetings. Perhaps getting used to being up in the wee hours for grinding helped a lot in coping with this issue.
Just about a week after making it with Gamegeek, I was hired by TNC as a graphic artist. One of the first assignments I had was to create concepts for a series of LAN events for a local mall. I immediately learned that holding esports events is no joke. It takes weeks, months of planning and conceptualization for even a local LAN to materialize. Aside from handing us the creative side of the event, our events team had to meet outsource partners for broadcast, hardware providers, sponsorships, finance and management people, and other necessary parties that have little to no direct involvement in gaming or whatsoever.
Months after, I was tapped to manage the social media pages of our pro teams. This included planning and execution of graphic materials, among others. It came to a point where I was clocking in over 9 hours a day in Dota 2.
But it wasn't because I was playing.
Rather, I was spending time in game to cover and do updates of TNC Predator’s games across our social media platforms. We worked similarly to a broadcast team. We wake up early and stay up late whenever our teams are playing qualifiers or in LANs to produce content.
I even went so far as asking one of our OJT’s to pilot my Dota 2 account (lucky guy) during the TI8 season because we all need those precious Battle Pass points and I couldn't find the time to play because of the rigorous coverage. The road to an Aegis replica is quite harsh.
We also did documentaries for TNC. All the planning, all the script, all the shoots were executed with a team of less than five multimedia men who are also gaming enthusiasts. Production is a tough challenge for such a small group – the shooter drives, the interviewer manages finances – it is amazing that a group of sheer willed people can do some magic with all the limitations facing us upfront.
But all the sheer will should come along with the right skillset and knowledge of the scene. It is difficult to produce gaming content for a game title that you are not aware of. Who’s who, what’s what? Perhaps the line of our work also applies for jobs on sports broadcast and coverage.
Passion comes secondary. It is always important to love your work regardless of the industry. But for a young – and as I personally think – volatile industry of esports, pouring in too much passion for the work will not do the magic. The unpredictability and lack of high paying opportunities in the field locally (unless you’re an established player playing for a fairly huge organization) can extinguish all the passion you want to give for your work.
The industry is big yet young.
The maturity of smaller organizations and teams might still be questionable. How can an organization make it through its everyday expenditures without the proper people ensuring income generating operations? And the events that may fall into shambles if not managed by knowledgeable people? Can a highly financed player sustain a self-founded team in a long run? How about teams who cannot find sponsors to fund their bootcamp and LAN expenses? Is it sustainable for smaller teams to hire marketing, creative and managerial people for their brand? Those are questions that mark the volatility of esports for some concerned parties.
As one of my friends sarcastically say, “I have burning passion for esports!” And I think all that fire will just burn out and extinguish without the proper fuel.