If you’re like most avid video gamers, you’ve at least occasionally daydreamed about the possibility of becoming a professional, competitive gamer. The international prize pool for Dota 2 recently rose to an astounding $30 million, representing a lucrative opportunity for anyone skilled enough to rise to the top of the ranks.
However, there are a few problems with trying to be a competitive gamer. First, the level of competition is oppressive. Millions of people dream of being competitive gamers, and you’ll have to be better than nearly all of them for a chance to win some of that prize money. Second, to polish your skills, you’ll need to dedicate a ton of time to practicing. Competitive gaming isn’t something you can experiment with in your free time while also managing a full-time career.
If these challenges don’t deter you, you’ll need to find some way to supplement your income as you grow your follower base and improve your skills. Fortunately, you’ll have several options.
Side Gigs and Part-Time Work
One of your best bets is to pick up a side gig or part-time job.
- Real estate. You can become a real estate agent as a way to make a part-time stream of income. Depending on where you live, you can likely become a real estate agent through online training, and spend as many or as few hours as you want buying and/or selling property for a personal profit.
- Ridesharing. If you can drive and you have a car, you can likely get involved with a ridesharing app. Again, you’ll set your own hours and you can work whenever you want. The pay isn’t great, but it offers what you need most—flexibility.
- Errands and delivery. In a similar vein, you could help people run their errands, like doing their grocery shopping or delivering their food. There are now dozens, if not hundreds of apps that can support you in this endeavor.
- Pet and child care. You may be able to offer pet care or child care as well. For a fixed number of hours per week, you can babysit, walk dogs, or housesit for homeowners on vacation.
- Tutoring. If you’re in high school or college (or if you’re a master of a given subject), you can tutor students, helping them write papers or study for exams. Again, it’s a job that offers practically unlimited flexibility.
- Almost any part-time job. Nearly any part-time job can work here, provided you’re getting enough hours to make the money you need with enough flexibility to focus on your skills.
While you’re trying to improve your gaming knowledge and skills, you may be able to make some extra income from your progress.
- Streaming and videos. If you use a platform like Twitch or YouTube, you could live stream or post videos related to your game of choice. There are many potential angles you could take here; for example, you could try to make tutorial and educational content to get more people into the game, or you could showcase your personality and entertain people with your insights and wit. Depending on how many subscribers and followers you attract, this could be a lucrative career path in its own right.
- Coaching. If you’re close to pro level and you can demonstrate your skills in a specific game, you may try to professionally coach people. For a small fee, you can train them on some of the basics and help them polish their technique. It’s a great opportunity to stay involved with the game while still making some extra money.
- Sponsorships. You may also be able to attract some sponsorships, depending on how visible you are. People may support you on your path to becoming a competitive gamer in exchange for brand visibility or some other benefit.
The caveat here is that these potential income streams require you to have some level of popularity to begin with. Breaking into the world of game streaming is nearly as challenging as becoming a pro gamer. You’ll need to be able to dedicate many hours to this endeavor, distinguish yourself from your competitors, and be able to market yourself effectively.
Finding a Balance
Entering the realm of competitive gaming is extremely challenging, and it’s going to take its toll on your finances and mental health, at least in the short term. Make sure you’re honestly evaluating your progress, both in terms of your skill level and popularity, and don’t be afraid to cut your losses if it doesn’t look like this is going to pay off. Competitive gaming isn’t a realistic option for everyone, and there are plenty of other opportunities you could explore if you decide it’s not for you.