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In fact, the temptation to cast yourself as an undiscovered star is all the greater, given the general absence of any physical feats of strength or agility. Professional video gaming differs from traditional sports in other ways too.
One of the more interesting ones is a very real flow from casual to professional. But in gaming, they can. In late November, I decided I would try. How hard can it be to become a professional gamer, really? Surely, I thought, the biggest hurdle is just finding the time to try. So I decided to go full-time for a week to see if I could make it. I played Hearthstone, a digital collectible card game based on the venerable Warcraft franchise which includes World of Warcraft, among others.
He declined to estimate how much he had spent on the game when I asked. Casual players such as me often focus on playing the game to maximise the amount of in-game currency that they earn.
But in the background is a second motivation, one that can take over alarmingly easily. The game offers a ranked play mode, which randomly pits players against each other, winning and losing ranks as they play. Rise high enough in the ranks and you hit the Legend rank. There, your ranking stops being equivalent to your tier rank one players being best, and rank 25 being worst , and becomes your actual place in the cohort of the best players in the world.
Moreover, simply reaching that tier brings you a step towards qualifying for the world championships; the higher you rank, the more points you get on your scorecard.
Get enough points, and an invitation to the regional qualifiers can come your way. All you have to do is win an awful lot of video games. As it turns out, my editor, for one.
Instead, his issues were more specific. The highest is one; the lowest is He had a point. And I was buoyed in that decision after I spoke to Andrey Yanyuk, better known as Reynad, one of the most successful professional Hearthstone players. Once you hit it, you have the same odds of winning as anyone else. But Reynad also introduced me to another thing to consider when it came to striding out as a pro player: But only one person can win that, and the rewards decline precipitously as you get further down the ranking.
Fail to win that, and you have to wait another year for your chance at the big money. One popular card has a 1. So the more consistent way to make a living playing Hearthstone might not be to head for the top of the tournaments, but instead focus on building up an audience eager to watch you play.
Reynad began streaming online card games, not with Hearthstone, but with Magic: Offline, Magic is a big deal: Online, however, it never quite took off in the same way,. When Hearthstone was released, he saw his opportunity. Whereas before, Reynad had to play 10 to 12 hours of MtGO a day just to scrape a living, Hearthstone provided a larger fanbase, and one that was still growing at a huge pace.
And so, with enough people watching his streams, the income from advertising alone provides a living. Whereas pretty much every streamer does it full-time, as a job.
If you had the choice between being a good pro player, and having a successful stream, I think having a successful stream is infinitely better in all sorts of ways. I took a week off work, and set up my streaming apparatus on the Sunday afternoon. An app, Gameshow, would share my screen while I played Hearthstone, and put an image of me from my webcam in the top-right corner.
The whole thing would be streamed live to my Twitch channel , where my adoring public would watch me fight my way up to the Legend rank, the first stage of my eventual plan to become Hearthstone world champion. The first problem was that I picked a particularly bad week to push for a high rank.
Hearthstone resets its leaderboard on the first of every month, and my first day put aside for trying to become a pro player was 30 November. That shaved a seventh of my time off, forcing me to power through the ranks even faster.
On the upside, it did give me a day to experiment with Twitch and the other streaming technology I would be using, as well as perfect my decks and practice. By the end of the first day, I had built myself a deck, which I thought could take me all the way. Those cards, the only piece of hidden information in the game, trigger when some condition is met on your opponents turn, like them attacking, or one of your minions dying. The deck builds up a rapid lead until turn six, when ideally you play Mysterious Challenger, a type of minion that automatically pulls out one of every secret in your deck.
At that point, the deck becomes infuriating to play against, with the secrets triggering in rapid succession to prevent any attempt at clearing the board. But the important thing is this: The term comes from first-person shooters, where players would complain that previously overpowered guns now felt like they were firing Nerf darts. The other important thing about my deck is that whatever it did, win or lose, it did it quickly.
To progress from the lowest rank to Legend takes 95 wins; and even from where I started, with my rank carried over from November, took Oh, and if you lose a match, you lose a star. To reach Legend, I would have to win hundreds of games. But by the end of Monday, I had my deck and I had my streaming set up. On Tuesday, it was time to play. Tuesday was not good. Going through the lower ranks of play was easy enough, and by the end of the first day I had risen from rank 20 to rank What could be easier?
But vocalising something forces you to think about it, which means the sort of decisions previously taken on autopilot now take conscious mental effort. People start watching the stream in drips and drabs but if you stop, they all leave at once. Distractions they may be, but they make the game a less exhausting experience.
By the end of the second day, I was exhausted. The same could not be said for the rest of the week. Wednesday and Thursday are a blur. People began watching the stream, in ones and twos. To reach Legend in a week, I would have had to rise at least four ranks a day.
But on the following days, things slowed down. I began losing as many matches as I won. For a while, I powered through and managed to rise up to rank 14, but in the end, I entered a state that any competitive gamer will know: I began to tilt. Originating from poker, tilting is the word for the emotional state you enter after a series of losses; hit by the failure, you begin to adopt worse and worse strategies, often becoming overly aggressive in an attempt to reverse the trend.
Instead, of course, you simply lose more, and so tilt more. In my case, the tilting took the form of wildly cycling through other decks, in an attempt to find out what would actually work. Rather than using my thoroughly tested Paladin, I switched repeatedly: But not as unpleasant as the Friday, when I was lain low by illness. But I still streamed. But he was also wrong.
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I am here chiefly to crawl to my new bosses. Which is why hundreds of universities throughout the world offer degree courses in computer games programming and design. It is a good time to join. With the arrival of digital distribution, games now have a bigger audience than ever; they are beamed directly to our phones, PC, consoles and tablets.
Just look at Flappy Bird. We are also entering an era of diverse artistic and emotional expression. But getting in to the industry is not easy — even if your plan is to make games in your bedroom. To get a few pointers, we spoke to a range of established indie coders and studio bosses about how fledgling developers should get started.
The most important thing is simply to start programming in something , so that you can learn the common principles, logic, and techniques. Games is only one.
The best one, sure. I would say Game Maker and Unity are good starting points if someone really wants to jump in at the deep end. Also if you want to be super cool like Mode 7, you can have a look at the Torque Game Engine which is now open source and has a big knowledge base.
Personally, when I started seriously making games, I downloaded Unity and in my spare time, worked my way through a 3D version of tetris. With Unity you can make games both with and without tons of programming knowledge and when you inevitably get stuck, there is always someone somewhere who can help you out. There are so many free tools and resources out there, it is a very exciting time to start making games!
I keep a running list that I share with students when I go give talks. My favorite tool to use for prototyping and game jams is Construct 2. Should people learn to code? Find other people who want to make games and make a game together.
I say this with a bias, as Python was the first language I ever learned. The best way to start making games is, ironically, to just start making them. The key though is to have fun with it, if it becomes a chore then mix it up a bit and try to get back to the fun. On the 3D side, Blender is free and can also get you started.
There is some fantastic software out there like Sketch Up which allows you to put together 3D art in a very simple way and progress to more advance techniques when you are ready. Photoshop and Illustrator CS2 are now free to download I believe, and combined with YouTube video lessons it should be easy to get going with exactly the tools used by professional 2D artists. For 3D art, options are a little more restricted but there are tools like Blender and educational versions of zBrush and 3DS Max which are used by the industry.
Specifically, get yourself a graphics tablet. Actually, working with a game designer who knows their layout, colours and shape basics would be a treat beyond words, so you guys should totally take a look at that stuff too. My heartfelt advice would be to try an established studio first if you can. Meet people, learn how you work and how games work, learn the dynamics, and then set up when you get a good feel for what sort of studio you want to make.
This may seem somewhat conservative but I advise it not just because of how difficult setting up and publishing is, but because of how much fun learning on the job can be. Studios are a by-product not an end in and of themselves. The three things everyone you work with should be able to do: You absolutely need someone who is a good programmer, and it helps if that person is also the lead designer. In terms of who to work with, I would say look for evidence of finishing. Finishing any kind of creative work is a skill that takes time to develop: Apply the same mentality you would to choosing people for a band.
These need to be people you would be happy to be locked in a van with for 30 days straight. You need people you can trust, who will be just as passionate about your baby as you would. In terms of skill sets the more generalists the better but make sure you have: Coder-artist, or code and artist, should be enough to get started to make a game. Know a bit about as much as possible — the horizontal line — and have deep knowledge of one thing — the vertical line. If you can, set up with somebody who is passionate about those aspects of the business as they will make your life a lot easier.
In fact - do it! Communication and vulnerability are the key skills a development team needs. The ability to talk honestly and the ability to be vulnerable are crucial to making a game and to dealing with feedback properly. Learn to write, write, write, write. You need to be able to express ideas in writing. Writing is that skill. I started out making educational software by day and working on short experimental games in the evenings.
These personal projects became my portfolio, which eventually landed me a job making games. Being a nice person, open to criticism and diplomatic and funny, are very important characteristics. You have to work with your team very tightly, often for long periods of time and sharing work and tasks, so you need to be able to get along.
Far and away ahead of confidence and genius, the ability to contribute to the team and the culture, to show up on time and produce solid work, to be reliable and nice to have around, are the most valuable things to a potential employer.
You really need to have self-confidence in a particular way to be good at making games — both coding and designing. You have to believe that what you want to achieve is possible: Game art is about communicating function to players. How do I use it? Where is it in the physical space? Will it hurt me? Most of game design is about communication - making sure the player knows all they need to know immediately, and can get straight into that unique thing that makes your game special.
Everyone needs to learn to code. Not necessarily to a professional standard, but to be able to understand what is going on under the hood of the project. Artists, designers, level builders, audio and even QA guys really need to understand how coding works generally, and how specific aspects of the game are working — streaming data, collision detection, memory allocation, etc — in order to do their job properly. The first is the most important.
Think about what actions the player performs, what the interactions are within the game, and what feedback the player gets. If you love making games, it is consuming.
I grew up playing games, but I got into the industry because I discovered that the problem set of making games was almost addictive for me. I probably would not have encountered those games on my own before. Anyway, just be advised that a transformation takes place there that you should expect. I used to think that other game developers, once they became more experienced, knew everything there was to know about games.
In reality, this medium is so new and so ever-changing, that everyone seems to be flailing around some less than others trying to figure out what to do next. Just try it out and see what happens. One exciting and fast-growing category on YouTube is competitive gaming, also referred to as eSports. As with pro sports baseball and football, for example , it has iconic players, fans, team uniforms, playoffs, and more. Although the eSports phenomenon is garnering significant media attention and revenue, it's only part of a much larger gaming content ecosystem.
Also popular on YouTube are walkthrough videos, which help gamers conquer their foes, find hidden gems, and improve their pace. This genre of video is called "Let's Play. And Let's Play creators take viewers on a hilarious journey through games, allowing them to witness their failures, detours, and successful strategies. Sometimes watching someone else play a game can be as much fun as playing yourself. This isn't surprising because we engage in similar behavior when watching the Food Network.
Even though we can't taste the food being prepared on shows such as Chopped , the process, tension, and competitive nature make for great entertainment.
In a recent Google Consumer Survey , viewers often cited the "reactions" and "commentary" of the YouTube creator as a big draw for this kind of content. One respondent said, "It's a shared experience with a favorite creator. He may not play games well, but his commentary, observations, and reactions add value— and a lot of laughs. Gaming content on YouTube is some of the stickiest.
More than 20 of the top YouTube channels with the most subscribers worldwide are gaming related. Who's the most subscribed? His loyal following now outnumbers the population of Canada. He's even made a cameo on South Park. These huge subscriber numbers make for a sustained and loyal audience, and viewers keep coming back for more. YouTube data shows that six of the top ten most-viewed channels in the U. And on most days in October, there was at least one gaming video on the daily top ten "trending on YouTube" list.
Quite a few fans answered, "Because they're hilarious! An up-and-coming gaming creator summed up interest with the following analogy: From an advertiser's perspective, gaming content is a rare breed— one that delivers engagement and reach. Take Maker, a YouTube multichannel network owned by Disney, for example. Channels on its gaming sub-network, Polaris, reach more 18—year-old men than MLB's video network does, according to November data from comScore Video Metrix.
Gaming content remains one of best ways to reach young men. Tubular Labs reports that among millennial males, gaming— specifically, gameplay— ranks in the top three categories for both 18—year-olds 1 and 25—year-olds 2. But what about women? As it turns out, adult women have recently unseated teenage boys as the largest video game— playing demographic, according to the Entertainment Software Association.
YouTube trends reflect this: Viewership among women has doubled year over year, and women over the age of 25 are the fastest-growing demographic for gaming content. People who watch gaming content have varied interests. This is especially true of women: November data from comScore Video Metrix reports that two in five 18—year-old viewers of StyleHaul , a network of female-focused beauty and fashion channels, also watch channels on Machinima , one of the biggest gaming networks.
A great— and fitting— example is iJustine. She is an influencer not only in the fashion and beauty space but in gaming as well. YouTube data tells us that both men and women are spending more time per video with gaming than in any other content area.
Women, however, are spending slightly more time watching each gaming video than men are. Gaming content on YouTube is seeing unprecedented momentum, and fans can't seem to get enough. Brands would be wise to take advantage of this new force in pop culture. It's rare that content with such a broad reach also commands such deep engagement.
And yet, even though the 35+ gamer crowd is clearly growing bigger each year, it's much Want to see how you compare with other gamers?. Apply to Crew Member, Gaming Expert - Nationwide Opportunities, Gamer Wanted! *Saturdays p-8p, Sundays p-7p Job overview: * Propel one of the industry's biggest virtual reality brands to new heights through successful. Off the back of another terrific year for video games in , the release Chrono Trigger fans will want to keep an eye out for this one.