How To Start a Gaming Career in 7 Steps

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published April 13, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you love to play games and think you're fairly good at them, you may be interested in becoming a professional gamer. Although this career path is possible, it also requires a lot of skill and hard work to succeed at starting a gaming career. When you're sure that working as a gamer is the career path of your choice, it's best to understand more about the requirements to get into the industry.

In this article, we discuss what a gaming career is and the benefits of having one, explain the types of gaming careers and provide a list of steps you can take to become a professional gamer.

Related: Guide: How To Choose a Career

What is a gaming career?

A gaming career is where you get paid to perform well in video games. While there are several positions in gaming you may hold with the right education and experience, from video game developers to software testers, a gaming career usually means earning money as a professional gamer through revenue streams like sponsorships and tournament winnings. As a gamer, it's likely you'll work atypical hours and from various locations, depending on the competition you're in and the team you're playing with.

Types of gaming careers

Explore these categories of gaming careers to find something that fits your interests, experiences and abilities the best:

Esports

Esports is an industry that focuses on and promotes virtual game play against other people over the world wide web for earnings. Because it's online, spectators can join and, sometimes, commentate on the game as gaming enthusiasts. Some of the positions in esports you may find include:

  • Shout casters

  • Production crew members

  • Coaches

  • Analysts

  • Event organizers

Cosplay

Participants in cosplay don costumes and fashionable accessories to engage in a performance-based play along with other individuals. Portraying a character, cosplayers can join competitions, form groups and practice getting into character to accomplish a realism that spectators appreciate. As a cosplayer, you may also become a:

  • Brand ambassador

  • Event organizer

  • Makeup artist

  • Costumer

  • Cosplay judge

Game studio work

One way to become a gamer is to work in a game studio, which can provide you with the opportunity to learn about game development so you can perfect your play alongside that knowledge. Working in a gaming studio, you may hold one of these titles:

  • Consultant

  • Recruiter

  • Software tester

Game development

One area you may excel in as you learn more about gaming is development. Although traditional game development usually requires some knowledge of programming, designing and testing, a gamer can also perform well as a developer's assistant by offering feedback on games, testing pending releases and offering the technical skills they do have to perfect the game. With some additional skills, gamers can find work in:

  • Cinematography

  • Audio engineering

  • Character design

  • Model animation

Video game live streaming

Many gamers use video game live streaming as a revenue source, which involves using online video broadcasting to record yourself playing a game for others to watch. Gamers can earn an income based on advertisements and how many people tune in to their broadcast at a given time. Brands provide sponsorships to gamers in exchange for the gamers endorsing their offerings while recording their stream. Brands may provide shirts, headphones or other customized gear that help the gamer do well. Some of the other positions in live streaming include:

  • Technical support specialist

  • Host

  • Outreach coordinator for sponsorships

Benefits of gaming jobs

Just like most positions, there are several benefits of being a professional gamer, including:

Opportunities to be creative

Video games are inherently creative, and it's common to need to find creative ways to solve a problem or beat an enemy. Being a gamer doesn't always mean having to play to earn an income either, as there may also be opportunities to write game guides, teach beginners how to excel at the game or judge tournaments of your own. As a gamer, video game companies and developers may ask for your opinions or pay you to play a beta version of the game before creators release it to the public.

Related: Creativity Skills: Definition, Tips and Examples

Job outlook

Once you've found success as a gamer, you may find that your job outlook is favorable. With continued practice and the ability to get to know the up-and-coming competitors, you may realize continued success in your career and continue to earn an income for your efforts. Plus, consider how many games come to the market each year. You'll always have the chance to learn a new game and use your acquired and honed skills to do well.

Related: Job Outlook: What It Is and Why It's Important

Versatility

As a gamer, your hours, work location and teammates can vary, which means you can likely make your career as versatile as you want it to be. You may participate in a tournament in a different location from your hometown or get to know new gamers who are quickly improving their play and need to join a team. You can also choose to practice your game within your own schedule, which can help contribute to a positive work-life balance that you can feel satisfied with.

How to start a career in gaming

If you want to become a professional gamer, consider these steps:

1. Decide which game you want to excel at

Most professional gamers focus on building their skills in a particular game. Take the time to decide which game you enjoy most, are best at and can see yourself building a career in. The more you're able to focus on a specific game, the more likely it'll be that you can find success in competing against other people who are also aiming for a career in the game.

Keep in mind that although there may be some games that offer more competitions and more chances of earning winnings, it's also important to pick a game you enjoy. This can motivate you more, helping you to continue building your skills in the game and have a good time doing it.

Related: Top 14 Video Game Jobs

2. Purchase quality gaming accessories

One thing you can do to become a professional gamer is to have the products and accessories that support your craft. For example, if you're gaming on your computer, consider purchasing a desktop PC that has a lot of open memory, is fast and can support a large game and what you need to run it efficiently and without lags. Explore the different options for a mouse too, so you can make sure your computer movements are precise, quick and supports your gaming.

If you're playing on a console, consider high-quality speakers, a television that produces a clear picture and a controller that fits your hands well. The gear you use to practice your chosen game can make a major difference in how well you play and how successful you are at becoming a pro gamer.

3. Practice your game

Once you've selected a game — and a gaming platform you want to excel at — spend a lot of time practicing. You can play for sport, but also consider joining local leagues, starting competitions with friends or signing up with a national group of players who compete online. It's through consistent play that you can build your skills, discover techniques and find out more about how the competition plays.

4. Immerse yourself in gaming-related content

There are already pro gamers who have found success in their chosen game, so explore content from them like blogs, podcasts, articles, interviews and more. Read through their strategies and how they've built their career. This can not only provide you with tips and proven techniques but can serve as motivation as you discover your own career path. To get very familiar with gaming, you can also:

  • Watch game streams

  • Attend professional competitions

  • Research strategies

  • Read immersive guides to your specific game

5. Join a network

The right network will connect you with other gamers who have an interest in making their career in games so you can practice together, and likely against others who are close to your own abilities and who can present a real challenge. You may learn tips and techniques from your network, with the added benefit of simply enjoying your time and reiterating your interest in making gaming your career.

Related: 10 Tips for Building a Network for Beginners

6. Join a team

The next step in becoming a professional gamer is to join a team. Your team can support you in your career and you can all play together against other teams that have similar skills and abilities. Find out which leagues and competitions your team can join, and sign up for ones that will either help you strengthen your skills or provide a challenge that you can learn from.

Especially for long-form competitions that go for days at a time, you and the members of your team can take turns playing against members of the other team so all of you can remain at the top of your game.

7. Apply for sponsorship

Many professional gamers have a sponsorship deal that helps them pay for competition entry fees and new equipment or provides an annual salary. In exchange, sponsorship companies ask that you promote their brand, wear their merchandise and maybe even mention them in interviews.

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