Competitive gaming, otherwise known as eSports, has been gaining continuous mainstream attention in recent years.
From 2019 to 2020, the number of monthly eSports viewers grew by 13.2%, from 21.1 million to 23.9 million. In fact, Insider Intelligence estimates that in 2022, the number will grow to 29.6 million monthly viewers.
As a result, global investors, brands, and media outlets all have a vested interest in the eSports industry.
Although the concept of earning a living by playing video games may seem absurd on the surface, working in the eSports industry is actually a lucrative opportunity. If you or your child is thinking about pursuing a job in eSports, you likely have tons of questions.
Here are a few answers to some of the most common questions about the eSports and gaming industry.
A Brief History of eSports and its Growth
With the almost overnight popularity eSports gained over the last couple years, it may be surprising to learn its roots date all the way back to 1972.
On October 19, 1972, a group of students at Stanford University hosted a competition for a game called Spacewar. The revolutionary event was the very first video game competition.
A student named Bruce Baumgart won the competition and received a year’s subscription of Rolling Stone magazine.
Although the decades that followed saw a rise in popularity for competitive gaming, it wasn’t until the last decade that eSports truly hit the mainstream. The 2011 launch of livestreaming service Twitch can largely be thanked for the uptick in popularity.
Twitch’s online broadcasting of tournaments for games such as League of Legends and Defense of the Ancients 2 opened a floodgate for brand new viewers to get their first glimpse of eSports.
Even more recently, the sensation of games like Overwatch and Fortnite, as well as television coverage from ESPN helped skyrocket continued growth in the industry.
In addition, celebrity involvement from the likes of Michael Jordan, Drake and DJ Marshmello further cemented gaming’s pop-culture status.
The mainstream success of eSports paved the way for new monetization opportunities.
In one year alone, between 2017 and 2018, investments in eSports rose from $490 million to $4.5 billion. As a result, eSports leagues have become more similar to those of traditional sports.
Teams have owners, franchises, endorsement deals and large cash prizes.
As gaming becomes ever more popular, kids are naturally more involved than ever.
And with the continuing growth of money pouring into the industry, it makes sense that parents would have questions about career opportunities for their children.
Are there good careers in eSports and the gaming industry?
The short answer to this question is a resounding yes. There are already fantastic career opportunities in gaming and eSports, and the market likely won’t slow down anytime soon.
Whether you’re more interested in developing or marketing games, there are a variety of jobs in the video game industry.
Jobs in eSports are projected to increase as the field rapidly expands.
Just like any other sports league, eSports needs business-minded individuals to manage and market teams and events.
In addition, finance is fundamental for eSports as well, due to the millions of dollars the industry rakes in.
Within the gaming industry in general, becoming a game designer is one of the most sought-after jobs.
Game designers play a similar role for games as a director does for movies.
The job entails conceptualizing ideas for new titles and guiding the development team through production. This job is a high-ranking position, however, that usually requires experience working in other roles.
Some of the other popular jobs include software developers and computer programmers.
These jobs entail the technical computer coding that makes games work. In addition, there are opportunities for animators, artists, audio engineers and writers within the industry.
Like any other medium, sales and marketing are equally as important to the industry as the content itself.
As a result, video game publishers need talented individuals to market their titles and garner the attention that translates to sales.
As eSports continue to expand video games further into the mainstream, the job demand for all areas within the industry will also rise.
What kind of degree do you need to work in the eSports or gaming industry?
Careers in the gaming industry offer opportunities to people with a diverse range of experience.
There are many lucrative jobs in the gaming industry that require a bachelor’s degree. For example, becoming a software developer requires a degree in computer science.
On the business side, working as a marketing manager for a video game publisher would require a business or marketing degree.
In addition, the rapid boom of eSports created new college-level career opportunities. Many universities today have recently added programs for eSports management.
And while some colleges don’t offer a major for eSports, they do offer minors that students can pair with a general business major. Earning a degree in eSports opens the opportunity for graduates to gain employment managing eSports teams.
While most current job opportunities require a bachelor’s degree, there are some that don’t. Instead, these jobs often require hands-on experience in a related area. T
hese careers offer great opportunities to enter the field and get hands-on experience.
One popular job that doesn’t require a degree is a video game tester. Developers and publishers hire testers for quality assurance to make sure the games run well and to gauge feedback. The job involves simply playing games while they are in development and noting any glitches experienced in the playthrough.
While this job appears like a gamer’s dream come true, the one downfall is that video game testers have one of the lowest salaries in the industry.
Another popular job in the gaming industry that doesn’t require a degree is a community manager. Community managers work as a liaison between the developers and the players.
This job entails gauging feedback from the game’s players and communicating with the developers to learn what fans like and dislike.
The field of video game journalism also provides a unique job opportunity for gamers. While most journalism careers require a degree within the field of communications, many gaming news outlets do not.
Video game news sites, such as Kotaku and Mega Visions, offer positions to people who can demonstrate both good writing and a passion for gaming. However, they don’t require a professional degree.
These jobs are usually freelance and are great opportunities to earn supplementary income writing about your passion.
Do colleges offer eSports degrees?
There are a wide array of colleges offering eSports Management degrees across the United States. One example is Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia. Students there can obtain a Bachelor of Science in eSports with an eSports Management Track.
The program teaches students to plan and execute eSports events utilizing the latest streaming technology. In addition, students learn how to develop business plans for teams, create online communities and promote upcoming events.
In addition, Shenandoah University also offers an eSports Media and Communication Track that focuses on the broadcasting careers associated with the field. Students can also obtain a Minor in eSports Management and eSports Performance Studies.
All the available programs give students hands-on experience through internships with major companies in the industry.
Another great college that offers a program for eSports Management is Caldwell University in Caldwell, New Jersey. Their program prepares students for careers in finance, marketing and event planning within the eSports industry.
The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, is also currently developing multiple programs for eSports and game studies. As eSports continues to grow, even more universities will likely support programs in the field.
In addition to providing degrees in eSports management, these colleges and others have implemented eSports teams to compete in a collegiate league. College-level eSports teams operate similarly to traditional college sports teams and serve as an extracurricular activity for students.
The integration of eSports in colleges isn’t limited to large universities either. Smaller private colleges like The University of Mount Union in Alliance, Ohio, have founded eSports teams as well.
Other Degree Programs to get into the Gaming and eSports Industry
Aside from programs specific to eSports, there are lots of other beneficial degrees that can lead to a successful career in the industry.
Degrees in fields such as graphic design, animation, writing and project management can all apply to the gaming industry.
Business degrees in marketing, management and finance also play integral roles within eSports. While eSports management programs offer an industry-specific lens, general business degrees still apply. eSports competitions are often held at live events.
Therefore, talented individuals with knowledge in event coordination and marketing can be highly beneficial.
With eSports becoming more widely accepted as with traditional sports like football and basketball, a degree in sports business also fits into the world of competitive gaming.
More than ever, eSports teams need strong management and someone with the ability to bring in brand sponsorships. In fact, sponsorships and advertising accounts for 69% of the revenue for eSports, according to Newzoo.
Does an eSports or gaming career have longevity?
Gaming and eSports are constantly evolving. Aside from the explosive mainstream popularity of eSports, the games themselves continue to become more advanced.
Just recently, the next-gen video game engine Unreal Engine 5 showcased the future of games with their Matrix tech demo. In addition, virtual reality capabilities, championed by the development of Meta, continue to push the evolution of the medium forward.
This steady growth means there will continue to be competition to create the “next new thing.” And it’s that competition that usually drives major job growth for any industry. Particularly, eSports is projected to skyrocket in revenue for the foreseeable future.
Newzoo predicts the eSports industry will hit $1.8 billion in 2022. Money flows through the industry in a variety of ways including media rights, live event ticket sales, merchandise and in-game purchases.
Experts also predict a rise in mobile gaming will also push the eSports industry further.
Currently, mobile gaming makes up almost half of the total global games market. The popularity of mobile games is already advancing into competitive gaming.
For instance, China now has a booming mobile eSports scene.
Overall, the gaming and eSports industry is a booming field with significant job potential that will likely increase well into the future.
If you or your kid has aspirations to get involved working in the eSports industry, hopefully we answered some of your burning questions.
If you have any further questions or insights about working in the gaming and eSports industry, we’d love to hear it. Feel free to share any of your ideas in the comments section!