Geeks everywhere want to know what it's like to be a pro gamer, harboring their own dreams of killing Zerg for a living. But the realities of pro gaming would dampen anyone’s drive to pursue such a career. The lifestyle of professional gamers might seem appealing, until you know what exactly that entails: a minimum of 10 hours a day playing a single game, every day, with no guarantee of making any money from it.
There’s a huge difference between being a casual gamer and a professional gamer. The life of an e-athlete is not cushy by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it can be downright grueling. Lack of sleep, drug abuse, sexual harassment — there are a lot of messed up things about playing video games professionally that just come with the territory. Let’s take a deep dive into the dark lives of pro gamers, and put to bed this notion of gaming as a cushy dream job.
Unlike more traditional professional athletes, pro gamers must enjoy long careers, right? After all, it's not like it matters if their body deteriorates. They're mostly playing with their minds.
In reality, pro gamers have extremely short careers. The average pro gamer retires in their mid-20s, because their reflexes and dexterity have diminished so much by that point they can't keep up with the young'ns. As of 2014, League of Legends had 27 million players and only 40 made the North American pro team. So the likelihood of success is infinitesimal and, if you make it, you're out shortly thereafter. It's not exactly a long-term career plan.
Professional gamers eat, sleep, and breathe gaming. Almost literally. It's not uncommon for pro gamers to play 14 hours per day. In fact, that's on the low side. Many are playing as much as 18, and a South Korean gentleman who goes by the name of MarineKing admitted to playing around 20 hours a day.
Look, gaming's great, but 20 hours a day? That would be exhausting to do once. To do so regularly would probably kill most people. The training is so intense, some players posit that doing anything sociable, like getting a girlfriend, can actually dramatically decrease your skill level and earning potential.
Gambling on e-sports is especially weird when you realize that many of the participants are teenagers, but there have been numerous cases of match-fixing as well. A Counter-Strike: Global Offensive match between two North American teams was thrown in 2014, and all bets were voided after the scandal was uncovered. Basically, members of one team secretly bet against themselves, then lost deliberately.
One Korean player even attempted suicide after his match-fixing scandal was uncovered. It's also fairly common for sharks to attempt bribe players to throw matches as well. It's just an all-around unhealthy situation.
ADHD medications like Adderall or Ritalin are commonly abused to increase focus in the pro gaming community, and a lot of players dabble in more obscure drugs as well. Propranolol, for example, is a beta-blocker that helps players remain calm by negating the effects of adrenaline.
Then there's the even crazier abuse of a drug that treats actual Parkinson's disease called Selegiline, which improves mood and motivation. It would be bad enough if players were abusing jsut one of these drugs, but they often consume a combination of all of them as a cocktail, with a sh*tload of caffeine to top it off. It's a miracle there aren't more drug-related deaths, frankly.