There is a pretty standard and well-established stereotype of gamers. You know, sitting in their parents’ basement, food wrappers and soft drink bottles are strewn about; they’re pale, awkward and have no social skills to speak of.
Pretty dismal on the face of it, until you realise that like most stereotypes, it’s a dated and unrealistic oversimplification based on a small kernel of truth. Sure the basement is ideal because you won’t have glare on your screen and yes taking that next objective is more important than cleaning up. But the social awkwardness is really a thing of the ancient past, before the internet was a massive connective tool, back when actual physical interaction was a thing people did (for fun apparently).
"...the (DotA 2) competition has a multimillion dollar prize pool ($10.9 million total)..."
The advent of increasingly complex app games on smartphones and tablets, along with a massive push from Microsoft and other companies in establishing gaming consoles as home entertainment systems has changed gamer demographics. The reality is that gamers are no longer some tiny sample of the population. Although many people may not realise it, they are on a slippery slope. It starts with candy crush and angry birds and it ends in a 14 day marathon against shit-talking kids from the Philippines and New Zealand.
With a larger and more varied population in the gaming world, the rise of e-sports is hardly surprising. Just the other week the 4th DotA 2 international tournament was held. The game’s actual name ‘Defence of the Ancients’ sounds like one of those 19 part fantasy epics with the strangely erotic troll/centaur/elf standing atop a massive cliff fighting lightning. Given this you might assume that a DotA competition would involve just a few hardcore fans splitting the cost of renting a hall and some fold out tables in order to battle it out for community rep.
In reality the competition has a multimillion dollar prize pool ($10.9 million total) which was raised by Valve, the company that made DotA 2, from the sale of a single in-game item. The prize for each position was split between the five team members; with first place awarded a total of $5.02 million USD. To put that in comparison, first place at Wimbledon can see you getting a meagre $1.7 million.
The winning team ‘Newbee’ has an average age of only 25 and the bonus the players received was more (individually) than Germany's FIFA world cup champions. That’s big dollars. The reality is that even if these guys epitomised the bygone gamer stereotype it wouldn’t matter because they are making massive bank from sitting on their arses, doing what they love.
So next time you’re telling your boyfriend, girlfriend or offspring to get off the ‘damn video-game’, perhaps instead, stop your downloads, bring them dinner, and offer kind words of encouragement…You never know, they might win the next international tournament (but probably not).