If you have a teenage boy, he might want to be a professional video game player when he grows up. You might think that’s a ridiculous idea, but some young men and women are actually turning their addictions into high paying jobs.
“Garcia, known online as Towelliee, is a star broadcaster on Twitch, a streaming platform whose popularity has turned recreational gaming into an improbably viable career. Each month, a hundred million visitors watch their favorite personalities play video games on Twitch, spending an average of nearly two hours a day there. This audience is large enough to make the site one of the twenty most trafficked in the U.S., yet it’s perhaps more apt to measure Twitch against a different medium. With viewership numbers that rival those of MSNBC or CNN, Twitch is less like a conventional Web site than like a kaleidoscopic television network: thousands of channels at once, broadcasting live at every hour of the day.
Game streaming, Garcia discovered, required non-stop work. The only way to attract viewers, and to prevent the ones you had from straying to other broadcasters, was to be online constantly, so he routinely streamed for eighteen hours a day. “That’s what I had to do to grow the viewership,” he said. His ankles swelled from sitting at his computer. His weight grew to four hundred and twenty pounds.
Garcia’s specialty is the multiplayer fantasy game World of Warcraft … After a year of broadcasting, he had a steady audience of seven hundred, but he was still desperately broke. During a stream, he asked viewers to help him hang on a little longer. One sent him fifteen hundred dollars—a gift that reduced Garcia to tears. … Six years later, Garcia makes several times that amount on a good day. Since 2011, he has been one of Twitch’s “partners,” an élite group that includes some twenty-five thousand streamers, of the 2.2 million active on the site. Between his thousands of subscribers—who pay a monthly fee for access to perks such as ad-free viewing—and his sponsorships, appearance fees, and tips, he earns a “low- to mid-six-figure” income. His streaming schedule has become more manageable, though it remains arduous: sixty hours a week, no days off except occasional Saturdays. He has devoted nearly thirty thousand hours to World of Warcraft. “
Read more about professional video game players at The New Yorker.