ALBANY, N.Y.— Gaming isn’t just something your son or daughter does at home anymore. It has become a global phenomenon.
Gaming has always been big, but now it can be done professionally.
Professional gaming has become so popular that China is building a 15,000 seat arena specifically for competitive video gaming events.
The Staples Center in Los Angeles sold out in just one hour for the tournament finale of video game League of Legends. More than 32 million tuned in to watch those finals online.
Alex Sunderhaft, 16, signed a contract to play StarCraft and has made close to $10,000 playing competitively.
“I put a lot of time into my game. Try to improve my strategy, the mechanics, how I use my keyboard and mouse, and it just seemed to pay off after a while,” he said.
His work paid off so well, that he recently returned home from Germany where he played in a StarCraft tournament. The champion will get $100,000, but there are much bigger purses.
Professor Ben Chang, Director of Games and Stimulation at RPI, had some of his students make a game, and some of his students “were” professional gamers. Chang used the word “were” because professional gaming seems to be a profession you grow out of.
“Sports or professional gaming is pretty new so we don't have an idea of what a lifetime career is of an e-sports player like you might for a golf pro or a baseball pro,” Chang said.
The tournaments make money by people paying to go and watch. It also costs money to watch live stream.
Alex said he practices close to five hours a day, and if he isn’t playing, he’s watching it. Alex’s parents both accept and embrace his job.
“As long as he can balance everything,” said Eileen, Alex’s mother. He is a good student, he is a good kid and he is a professional gamer. I just have to admit it.”
Much like other sports, when signing a contract for an e-sport, Alex has a sponsor, in this case Steele Series, and they send him headphone, keyboard, mouse and mouse pad.
Alex hopes to increase his skills by going to South Korea this summer where StarCraft is a national pastime.
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