I remember in our first tutorial the question we asked one another was “what is a gamer?” One of the responses to this question was “someone who is not taken seriously.”
As a previous blog entry has now mentioned, the world of eSports and professional gaming has blown up on a massive scale. Gamers at the top of the circuit are considered athletes and are superstars in their industry. Take the League Championship Series, or LCS, competitive League of Legends series for example. Players are earning upwards of six figure salaries, signing countless autographs, picking up sponsorship and endorsement deals, and packing out massive stadiums with fans who all want to see them play. So my question is why, when living essentially the same lifestyle as professional athletes, are professional gamers and eSports not taken seriously?
One element of eSports that I am proud of, and hope will improve professional gaming’s reputation, is the gamers who use their near celebrity status and gaming abilities to benefit charities. For those who are less invested in the eSports world, one way professionals earn money and increase their fan base between events or during the off season is by streaming themselves playing their game of choice live on the internet. Many people may find it hard to believe, but it is not uncommon for an individual streamer to have up to 50 thousand people watching them play, at one time. Rather than use this to their advantage and keep all of the advertising revenue for themselves, a number of players often partake in marathon charity streams, where viewers are encouraged to donate to the charity of choice while the streamer plays a video game for an almost unreasonable amount of time – even up to 24 hours straight!
A recent example, and probably one of the best, of a successful charity stream was done by a player who calls himself Siv HD. Incredibly, Siv managed to raise over 100 thousand dollars for Save the Children, in one sitting from viewer donations alone, while streaming himself playing League of Legends. This video shows the moment when he reached what he thought was an unreachable goal, after having reached 50 thousand and deciding he could do even better.
This is only one example among many. Professional gamers Team Curse, as another example, have on more than one occasion donated their services to schools, homeless shelters, and SPCA animal sanctuaries during their free time.
I have faith that this element of charity which has developed in the industry will shine a positive light on professional gaming and on eSports and, just maybe, will give gaming a chance at getting the recognition it deserves. Maybe if more people knew that professional gamers have the power to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time by playing games, I might not get laughs whenever I tell someone that i’m studying video games, or see a confused face whenever I tell someone that there are thousands and thousands of people watching an online stream.
So, one day, I am hoping that when prompted with the question “what is a gamer?” an answer might be “someone taken seriously.”