I will admit that when Antonio, a character from Despicable Me 2, said that his dream is to one day play video games for a living, I chuckled. Not because the joke is that funny, but because the joke is on whoever wrote that line.
If we go back to when I was a kid growing up and competitive gaming was just taking off, that line would have made more sense. When I was a teenager I was pretty serious (and pretty good) at two games: Counterstrike, and Dota. But no matter how good I was at these games, if I’d told my parents I wanted to play video games for a living, I have no doubt they would have just laughed at my “joke”.
More than a decade later though, things have changed. South Korea used to be the only country where aspiring gamers could go pro. Now there are kids from all over the world who’re barely out of high school who are doing exactly this. And not only are these some of these guys making a living, they’re walking away from tournaments with hundreds of thousands of dollars.
I first took notice of professional gaming and how far it had come when I accidentally stumbled upon a live stream of the League of Legends (LoL) 2012 IPL Tournament. The first place prize for that tournament was only $25 000, but it was professionally run, and really entertaining to watch. This was the event that got me interested in e-sports.
When I heard about the prizes that were going to be on offer for the League of Legends Season 2 World Championship later that year, my jaw nearly hit the floor. The Season 2 World Championship had a total prize pool of $2 000 000 dollars. The team that finished in first place got $1 000 000 of that. The second and third place winners took home $250 000 and $150 000 respectively. Even the 12th placed team made $25 000.
Fast forward to just a few days ago. The international tournament for DOTA2, funnily enough called The International, wrapped and sent 8 teams home with some cash in their pockets. The total prize money for this event was over $2 000 000! The first place team walked away with $1 437 204 of that. Second place got $632 370. Third place got $287 441. The team in 8th place got $43 116 for their time.
So to the writer who put that line into Despicable Me 2: make fun of the professional gamers while you can. Within our lifetime you will see the acceptance of professional gaming by the mainstream media. You will see talented video gamers putting off college and studying until they’re considered too old to compete as a professional gamer. You will see people going to the pub on a Friday night to have a beer and to catch their favourite e-sports team on TV.