I’d been sick for most of Saturday when a buddy called me up and asked me if I’d gotten his text. Since I hadn’t gotten it, I said no. He let me know that him, his girlfriend and some of my other friends were meeting at about seven to grab sushi at a place by my house. Most of my week had been spent at work or at home recovering, so I decided to join them. I got there at about 19.10 and no-one had arrived, so I stood outside the restaurant and waited.

While I was waiting I couldn’t help but overhear a disastrous date going on right behind me. A guy was talking to his date about his gaming hobby, which he seemed quite passionate about. He started to talk about pro gaming and how guys playing League of Legends earn a decent living playing the game professionally. He mentioned one player in particular and how much he earned. She’d been pretty quiet up until this point but she suddenly broke her silence with this comment:

“What a loser. I don’t care how much you earn. If you play games for a living you’re a loser.”

League of Legends Tournament
These losers sure do have a lot of fans…

I was surprised by how viciously she spat this comment out.

“So after you guys left my place did you go back home to play computer games?” I can only assume that the guy was there for a lan or something, and that’s probably how they met.

“N-no” the guy replied nervously. “I had other stuff to do.” Even I could tell from the tone of his voice that he had gone back to playing games after he’d left her place.

The conversation continued with the guy trying to talk about how much he was into his hobby (he was involved in a clan with a bunch of his friends), but downplaying how serious he was about it. I couldn’t help but shake my head. While this guy was trying to do damage control, I was really tempted to go up, interrupt this disaster and ask the girl if she thought rugby players were losers, after all they played a game for a living as well? I chose to refrain from dealing the final blow to her poor date’s sinking ship (my attempts to defend his hobby would have just left him looking bad), and chose instead to let him try and salvage any chance he had with this girl.

Now I’m fully aware that pro gamers are not pro athletes, if anything they are more like pro chess players, but I still have to ask myself “Who in their right mind considers someone who earns 50 thousand US dollars a year a loser?”

I decided to look up the stats and, on average, a person with a bachelors degree (or higher) earns just over 49 thousand dollars a year. In all fairness, only the top 25 League players earn 50 thousand dollars or higher, but the highest paid players get over 2 hundred thousand dollars a year to play.

Two. Hundred. Thousand. US. Dollars.

League pros getting ready to play.
League pros getting ready to play.

Now there’s a huge pay leap between the top 5 players and the rest, (125 thousand dollars, give or take), so it’s safe to assume most of the pro League players don’t earn that much. I am really curious to know what the lower end professional players make? Even if it’s only 30 thousand or so, that’s still almost as much as someone with an incomplete college education.

In closing, I guess the hatred that came across in the girl’s comment really caught me off guard. The reality is probably that most players don’t earn big money as professional gamers, but if you’re good enough to crack 50k a year playing games, at worst I’d say you’re a bit short-sighted.

What do you guys (particularly my American readers who have an idea what $50k is relative to your typical US salary) think?

In related news, the US now recognises pro League players as professional athletes, so maybe that young lady will have a change of heart in five years or so.

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