The idea of making money by just playing games may seem crazy to many but the truth is it’s possible and gaming greats like Jonathan ‘Fatal1ty’ and ‘Lee Flash Young’ are proof of that fact. In addition to money, recognized pro-gamers may qualify for the US P-1 visa so that they can earn a salary and stay in the U.S. while playing there.

However at the same time, you must realize that professional gaming is serious business and requires determination, skill, teamwork and lots and lots of practice for success.

So, it would be wise if you engaged in gaming along with your full-time job. Only quit the latter if you are very sure of earning a steady and good pay from the former.

Professional Gamer: How to Make a Living from Your Hobby

© | Syda Productions

In this article, you’ll learn 1) how to establish yourself as a professional gamer – some tips and ideas, 2) ways to make money from gaming, 3) games you can consider to make money, and 4) prioritize and be realistic.


Select your game

Obviously, the first step to becoming a pro-gamer is to select your game, learn it and practice it. If, for example, you want to play Warcraft 3, it is not enough to play the game for just one or two hours every day and expect to become an expert at it. You have to aim at learning all that there is to learn about the game. This includes typical strategies and their counters. You’ll also have to watch replays of the games of leading players and memorize unit stats. From the videos of leading players, you’ll get some idea of what it is that makes them such great players.

Familiarize yourself with the jargon

Multiplayer games are associated with plenty of jargon, and the game jargon depends on the particular game you’re playing. In Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) games such as DOTA2, Heroes of Newerth or League of Legends, there are terms such as stun, disable, neutrals/jungle, hex/voodoo, ancients or lane. First person shooter (FPS) players provide unique names to areas or spots on the map. This is so that teammates can know where the enemy players are.

Do lots of practice starting with Bots or AI

Before you play out in the open, it makes sense to be aware of both the game’s and your strengths and weaknesses. Counter Strike is one of the many games that would allow you to play against bots. So, you can bring together a team of your bots, and fight against the enemy to understand the intricacies of the game. You can make use of bots to appraise your performance as well as to adopt your manner of gaming to what seems most comfortable.

Study the professionals

By studying the professionals, you can know how they tackle the various games, how their strategies and complex teamwork ensure them of success. You can also watch their split decision making, ploys, tricks and other lessons, the knowledge of which would be useful for your game play. By way of live streaming (through sites such as, you can watch some pro-gamers play live.

Fine-tune aspects that can give you an edge

All rounder players typically don’t deliver a great performance in competitive gaming. Ideally, each of the team’s players should have a specialized skill. It is also easier to specialize in one kind of character, class, weaponry, and so on. Be the best at whatever aspect of the game you seem to have a knack for, including game play on the field, whether it’s jumping full-throttle into the heat of the action, running around the map, supporting the team or sitting still to farm gold. If you’re good at sniping, work to be the best sniper ever, even if you’re not all that good at assaulting.  Also, look for same-spirited players to be a part of your team and strengthen it.

Make sure you have quality gaming gear

Though a lot of people may say that gaming gear is not worth wasting money for because it makes the player dependent on it, that argument may hold true only for casual gaming. With respect to professional gaming, the gear is intended for accuracy, responsiveness, and durability. While the response time of a normal desktop mouse is 8-16 milliseconds, the response time of a gaming mouse could be just one millisecond. Hardware helps considerably in reducing errors in the middle of the battle. Those into hard-core gaming would stand to gain from investing in products from well-known names such as Razer, Logitech, and SteelSeries.

Be part of a community

Build a network or be part of a community of pro gamers. Join forums and engage in conversations. You can discuss strategies and gain from outside input. You can also share tips and advice among yourselves. In addition, you can promote yourself through Twitter conversations or your very own profile website, among other avenues.

Look for tricks, tips, and guides

Watching the pros play may help you to some extent but unfortunately it won’t help you know the thoughts going through their head as they play. If you want to comprehend the mechanics of the game, you’ve got to study or read about the game in detail. You can get lots of information about any game from the internet. This information includes knowledge on the characters, their armory, skills, the playing field and their moves with weapons. Knowledge of each character’s capabilities will help you be more prepared and avoid being caught unawares too easily. YouTube is a great resource for guides and tutorials. If you find yourself stuck at a particular level, you can check out walkthroughs of single player games, on the channel.

Get a team

You can go solo if you like, but a team can help to compensate for your shortcomings and enable you to contribute differently. For example, in Team Fortress 2 tournaments, it is essential to have a food medic. Maybe casual observers won’t be able to comprehend fully what your role in the team is but at least, you can be comforted by the fact that you are an indispensable part of the team.

When selecting members for your team, think along lines such as skill levels similar to yours, dedication, responsibility (such as coming for practice on time), and a little variety in specialities (no point in having so many people who are experts in the same aspects of the game). If you’re in the mood for fanciness, you can try Motorola’s Six Sigma strategy for team building.

Thanks to the internet, your team members don’t necessarily have to be from the same locality, area or even country. You can even make a team comprising players from different parts of the world as long as they are willing and prepared to game at the same time, and to cooperate if a need should ever arise to travel to tournaments.


Register with a professional gaming organization and compete at tournaments

With respect to professional gaming organizations such as the National Electronic Sports League and Major League Gaming, gamers must sign up online, register, complete a profile and let the organizations know which online game accounts they use. Once you are enrolled in the organization, you will have to select some events (such as cups, leagues, and ladders) to compete in. You can either enter a team or build your team. Teams would register for tournaments and leagues that offer prize money. Key gaming leagues include the North American Star League, IGN Pro League, Global StarCraft 2 League and the Electronic Sports League. To be closer to being asked to be a member of the gaming team you must possess an impressive ranking as an individual player. To improve your ranking, try challenging other individual players.

Gaming tournaments are a great way to earn money. Prize amounts for winning teams can be in the ranges of hundred thousand or millions. It would be a good idea to get yourself a corporate sponsor. You can, in fact, gather a considerable amount of your annual income from corporate events. When an individual player or team has a sponsor, the player or team may be able to dedicate more time to practice. Major sponsors such as Red Bull and Dr. Pepper sponsor events at the tournament level so that members of the audience can see their advertisements.


Though you can earn an income from streaming games, it is a difficult avenue for newbies to attempt. The reason is that there is so much of the competition, and you require a big number of viewers.  Getting a considerable number of viewers is no ABC unless you already have some level of popularity in the eSports scene or gaming industry or have a knack at directing views to your stream. You also have to be entertaining considering that streaming is a very time-consuming process (more than YouTube videos), and people usually watch streams for long durations. To soar above the competition, you have to show yourself to be insanely good at the game, be amazingly funny or entertaining in some other way or otherwise be some celebrity. is a very popular channel for streaming games.


Once you become a pro player, you can provide tutorship or coach for other prospective professional gamers.

Posting on YouTube

You can record videos of yourself playing games, provide a running commentary for the whole videos, post them on YouTube and enable monetization so that you earn money when people watch your videos. Note that videos without commentaries may be rejected for monetization, so it is best to include commentaries. Also note that according to YouTube, the step-by-step commentary should be strictly connected to the live action and provide educational or instructional value.

Game testing

Game testing, also known by the term “play testing,” involves testing games in their development stages to find out whether there are any glitches or problems and to report them. It is the major video game companies that typically hire video game testers. Unfortunately, the pay is not good, job security is bad and you may be required to sign a non-disclosure agreement. In addition to this bad enough situation, it is not necessary that a game tester would be given only the games he likes to test. You may even end up testing games you detest a lot. As a game tester, you’ll have to engage in repetitive and tedious tasks and maybe even work overtime for long periods. So, think twice before venturing into this domain.

Share what you know with others

If you excel at a particular game whether StarCraft or Call of Duty or some other game, in addition to coaching, you can share your knowledge with others by way of eBooks or manuals. Sites such as Killer Guides would allow you to develop an eBook through which you can convert your knowledge into money. If you’re okay about a possibly smaller market, you can also think of selling your eBooks through other sites, such as your website or even Amazon.

Write about games

The internet abounds in websites carrying advertisements. Websites such as these require news, reviews and all other material which people would be interested in reading with respect to video games. If you’re an all right writer with a good knowledge base, you can try your hand at contributing written matter for one of these sites. Alternately, you can attempt your blog and incorporate advertisements in it.


League of Legends

Free to play, the very popular League of Legends has brought a huge e-sports scene into existence. Competitions are carried out by way of the game’s creator – Riot James in addition to World Cyber Games and Major League Gaming, among others.

Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm

StarCraft is a major name, a big daddy when it comes to professional gaming across the globe (particularly in South Korea). Almost every gaming league has events revolving around StarCraft2. In terms of winnings, the game’s top players have got themselves thousands in winnings, and if salaries are also included, it comes to more than $1 million dollars.

Dota 2

This game is also free-to-play and similar in play to League of Legends. Developed by the very same studio responsible for the well-known Half-Life Series, the game is known for a crazy degree of depth and enormous cash prizes.

Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne

Warcraft 3 continues to go strong even though it has been on the market for over a decade. If you wish to pursue the game, you can participate in professional competitions still hosted by World Cyber Games.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2

Call of Duty suits both beginners and elite players well because it is easy for the former to get into the game, and the latter would find the game considerably technical. Major League Gaming runs the biggest tournaments.


As already discussed above, there are several options you can choose from (such as game testing and YouTube posting) through which you can earn money from gaming. You have to decide which of those (or any other options you know of) are best suited for you and how you can convert them to worthwhile sources of income. Once you have a picture of where your strengths lie, develop a plan. Ensure that the plan is practical and measurable and then work towards converting those goals to reality. If at any point, you feel you are falling way behind, re-evaluate and modify the plan accordingly.

Making a career for yourself and a steady income in professional gaming may not be easy but as mentioned at outset, it is definitely possible. Even if you have no other option but to game in combination with your full-time job, you can still rest content from the fact that you are living out your passion.

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