Thousands make a living off of online gaming
MOORHEAD, Minn.—Some consider it no more than a bunch of clicking and noise, but to thousands of others, it's how they make a living.
And a rich one, at that.
The growing world of "E-Sports," or electronic sports is where hundreds of thousands of video game players livestream their hobby to a global audience of over 1.1 billion people.
Money coming in from donations, subscriptions, followers, sponsorships.
Ultimately, people are paying to watch others play video games.
The lucrative career path of gaming has literally changed the game for players, now instead of dressing up to go to work, this is their office, where they make their own hours and money all from video gaming.
"There's a lot of people who do it for a full time career," said Nathaniel Losing, E-Sports Gamer.
Beyond being a full-time neuroscience and biology student at Concordia College, Nathaniel Losing finds a source of secondary income by playing on a video-game streaming site called Twitch, and posting videos of his "wins" on YouTube.
Losing said, "You go back in time and tell my mom that this is a possible income option, way back when I was 12 years old when she was telling me to get outside instead of playing video games."
Responding to his "call of duty," Nathaniel streams only about six hours a week during the school year.
Still, it gets him about $45 bucks a month.
Meanwhile, the best competitive gamers in the world make over $3 million a year.
"There are more people watching nerds play league of legends than the NCAA finals across the world," said Losing.
One local legend is Brandon Qual, AKA "Puck," whose made a name for himself as one of the top Starcraft II players in the U.S.
He's raked in an estimated $50,000 total.
Qual travels the world, and is currently competing at the Worldwide Electronic Sports Games in Korea, making his alma mater, MSUM, proud.
"Without even understanding the game, you can tell this guy knows what he's doing and that was just fun to watch for us," said Professor John Wepking, MSUM Marketing and Production.
After knowing "Puck," Professor John Wepking reminds his students, and sometimes parents, to keep an open mind about the blossoming career.
"This is something that we try to bring out in our students who have that interest," said Wepking.
More and more colleges, like the U of M, even offer E-sports scholarships.
Wepking said, "Like any other career path, any other sport, you really have to know how to practice and be diligent and really try to make into a revenue making opportunity."
Together, it's a sport they're trying to grow, despite traditional hesitation.
"To all the parents out there: if your kid is good, let them play the games. Let them keep getting better at the games. Teach them safe internet rules," said Losing.
To put it in perspective, over 360 million people watched this year's "League of Legends" invitational, compared to the estimated 103 million that watched the Super Bowl.