How To Become a Pro Video Gamer: 10 Steps for Success

Updated June 30, 2023

The growing popularity and profitability of professional video game competitions attract players from across the world to consider a career in pro video gaming. Whether those individuals are looking for solo or team competitions, being a pro video gamer requires practice, patience, agility and determination to succeed. If you enjoy playing video games, consider learning more about esports to decide whether you want to pursue it as a career.

In this article, we discuss the role of a professional gamer, how to become a pro video gamer in 10 steps and the difference between this profession and that of an online streamer.

Key takeaways:

  • Professional video gamers compete in esports tournaments and provide entertainment for gaming fans.

  • To become a pro gamer, it's helpful to choose one game, or a few games, to focus on when training and developing skills.

  • Joining a competitive team or gaming club can help you develop your gaming skills and enter the competitive space.

What is a pro video gamer?

A pro video gamer is someone who plays video games professionally in competitions. Professional video game competitions, or esports competitions, can have prizes worth millions of dollars. Pro video gamers primarily make their money through these big competitions, which happen in many countries.

Although it can take a lot of practice to join the elite players who earn that much money, it's possible to do well with the right combination of practice, talent, teammates and game choice. When pro video gamers aren't competing, they may be training or preparing in some other way. This might include:

  • Practicing their gaming skills, especially for the specific game category in which they compete

  • Taking care of their body to allow for marathon gaming sessions

  • Discussing strategy with their teammates

  • Trying out new games to hone their skills and discover new strengths

Related: How To Get Into the Gaming Industry

How to become a pro video gamer

You can become a pro video gamer without a formal education, and here are some steps you might follow:

1. Choose your game

There are a lot of video game types in gaming competitions. Although it's possible to compete in multiple games, many pro video gamers focus on one competitively. This allows them to practice a lot and develop one specific skill set to an expert level. When choosing your game, think about whether you prefer a classic, reliable game with a history of competition, or an up-and-coming game that may be new to competitive play.

There are benefits and challenges to each. For example, a classic game may be more likely to have competition opportunities in the future. It may also have a high number of existing experts because more people are likely to be familiar with the game. Conversely, a newer game might have a lower level of competition, but there's a chance it won't be successful as an esports game, which could require you to learn a new game to compete.

Related: 7 Jobs in Video Games With No Experience (And How To Get Them)

2. Get active in the community

The gaming community's a big part of being a professional gamer. Many gaming competitions are team events, so it's often helpful to find a team. It's also important to understand the culture and community you're entering. If you enjoy the other people in that community, you may enjoy working towards being a professional gamer with that game. Additionally, being an active participant in the community for the game you choose can help you:

  • Increase your skills

  • Make important connections

  • Understand competitions

Related: How To Find Jobs in the Video Game and Esports Industry

3. Find the right equipment

Modern gaming equipment's extremely customizable, so you may have some decisions to make about equipment:

  • If you play on a console, there are different types of controllers and setups you can use.

  • If you play on a computer, you can customize the computer and many peripherals, such as keyboards, mice and monitors.

Each gamer's ideal setup is different and based on preference, so it might take some time for you to find exactly the right equipment you need to game at your best. The best way to find what equipment you need is to talk to your gaming community, do your research and try some equipment out. Maximizing your gaming equipment can help you improve your gaming skills.

Related: 18 Jobs for Video Gamers That You Can Pursue

4. Practice often

The most important part of preparing to become a professional video gamer is to practice the game of your choice. Like any other sport, practicing and studying your playing can help you improve. This can involve:

  • Practicing specific techniques and skills you may need to excel

  • Discovering new strategies through research and community discussions, then practicing those strategies in-game

  • Watching expert players to see how they handle different in-game situations

  • Watching videos of yourself playing to understand how you might improve

Related: 6 Important Job Skills at Work (And How To Learn Them)

5. Understand how to compete

Each esports game has its own format for how new players can become professional video gamers. There are usually different levels, ranging from casual game-store leagues to huge arena competitions for a lot of money. To plan how you want to proceed, consider researching how competitions work for your game of choice. Once you understand how to compete, you can make plans for where you want to start.

Related: Different Types of Competitions in the Workplace (With Tips)

6. Start small and improve your experience

Just like in any other career, it may be best to plan to start with smaller competitions and events to build your experience. The more you grow as a player and the more familiar you become with the esports industry, the more you can excel in competitions with a higher profile. Additionally, establishing yourself at smaller events can allow you to find new potential teammates and show them what you can offer.

Related: 10 Tips for Gaining Experience To Advance Your Career

7. Join or create a team

Many competitive games require a team of players. If your game's one of these games, you can either join or create a team with which to compete. If you don't have anyone you want to create a team with, you can often find teams to join or other players looking for a team through your online community. This is one reason it's helpful to become involved in the gaming community for the game in which you choose to specialize.

One of the most important things in working within a gaming team is to be sure that you all support one another in the game. This might mean that you've compatible strengths and weaknesses, or that you're good at communicating. The best gaming teams are those that work well together, so prioritize gaming with those who are a good fit with your skills and gameplay style.

Related: The Importance of Teamwork (Plus 11 Ways a Team Benefits From It)

8. Compete

After setting up a team set up and playing in some smaller competitions, you may pursue more serious gaming events. Although it might take time for you and your team to cultivate the skills to join these types of events, with each competition you join regardless of size, you may learn more about how to improve. Keep in mind that watching videos of you and your team at a competition can help you learn ways to get better. If you win, that can help you get into larger competitions.

Related: Is Game Design a Good Career for You? (With Other FAQs)

9. Take care of yourself

Because gaming's a sedentary activity, it can wear on your body in unique ways. Taking care of yourself can make you a better gamer. This includes taking care of your physical health by:

  • Stretching

  • Exercising

  • Trying to prevent repetitive strain injuries

It also includes taking care of your mental health through various activities, ranging from therapy to social interactions. A bonus to having a healthy social life is that it can make you a better communicator, which can benefit your gaming team.

Related: 14 Ways To Practice Self-Care at Work (And Why It Matters)

10. Keep honing your skills

Whether you're just getting started as a professional gamer or you're already successful, it's important to keep honing your skills throughout your career. You may find that you learn new strategies or ways to play over time that help you become more competitive. Alternatively, you might find an entirely new game on which to focus.

Related: Top 14 Video Game Jobs

Pro gamer vs. pro streamer

There's another type of video game job, called a streamer. Rather than competing in competitions, streamer broadcast their playing online for people to watch. These gamers might compete in esports competitions, or they might stream only. Streamers often make money through subscribers, ad revenue and affiliate links, rather than winning competitive prizes. One advantage to being a streamer is that if you provide entertainment, you can get subscribers and earn money, regardless of your skill level.

To be a streamer, you may set up a stream online and build an audience. You can also play different games whenever you want. This differs from competitive pro gamers, for whom the best way to game professionally is to become an expert in one specific game.

Explore more articles

  • How To Become an FBI Profiler
  • What Can You Do With a Horticulture Degree? 13 Job Options
  • How To Get an Internship With No Experience
  • 25 Jobs in Environmental Studies (With Salaries and FAQ)
  • 10 Different Jobs in Modeling To Explore
  • How To Get Hired as a Manager if You've Never Managed People Before
  • 12 Tips for When You're Having Trouble Finding a Job
  • 16 Jobs for Business Economics Majors
  • How To Become a Behavioral Therapist (Plus Average Salary)
  • 22 Lessons You Learn While Working in a Restaurant
  • Director vs. Officer: What's the Difference?
  • How To Become a Sports Medicine Doctor