I’m not sure you’re 100% aware of this but yes, there are people who play video games as a professional sport. I’m going to ignore the debate about whether or not Starcraft counts as a sport and focus more on on of the pro players Kim “herO” Joon Ho.
Kim is from South Korea, where they treat pro gamers the same way America treats pro football players. I know it sounds a little strange doesn’t it, something we’re not used to here in Australia. It’s difficult to get a handle on just how popular pros like Kim are.
Part of the lifestyle is living in a team house. The whole team lives, eats, sleeps in the same building so that they can focus on their craft. Kim is no exception, being part of team CJ Entus, so public appearances seem to only happen during tournaments or events organised by CJ Entus for the sake of publicity. Most of the interviews he partakes in are after the series of games he has played.
In my opinion it wouldn’t hurt to have professional games become popular in the west either. When I was growing up everyone was into their sport of choice, my family was into soccer more than might be considered healthy, and I was almost alone being interested in video games. I know most people never grow up to become professional football players but it would have been nice to have some sort of aspirations of professionalism rather than just be playing what everyone called “silly games.”
In fact if it weren’t for tournaments with their own celebrities, like the Global Starcraft League (GSL), games might not have taken off today in the same manner. Games like Starcraft and DotA are much more popular in South Korea than they ever were in the west, resulting in the 11 year wait between the initial release of Starcraft and the sequel. It’s interesting to me though that these games are all manufactured by companies from America, instead of local companies making similar games in a more familiar language for people like Kim to excel at.
All in all, I can’t wait for pro gaming to become mainstream enough that I can say what I watched instead of the Superbowl at family gatherings.