Gaming as a Job in Singapore

Want to make a Career out of gaming?
What better job out there that pays you to have fun!?


Image Credit: blog.dk.sg

Most of us grew up playing video games, which also grew from a focused entertainment niche to mainstream with us. And most of us play video games to pass time, entertain ourselves of spend some quality team work time with friends or complete strangers. But not all of us. As the industry grew, a new breed of professionals has emerged: professional gamers; young people who make sizable income or even a living, from playing video games.

Being a professional computer game player is not only cool, it has many perks. It is great to make money from doing something which almost any young man does freely. The money here can also be sizable since eSports (electronic sports) tournaments are now big businesses and some big names like Intel having their own worldwide tournaments.

Source: Walizahid.com

The top price for a World Championship can be as high as 1 Million USD. And don’t forget the money coming from the sponsors. If you are famous enough, you would have a fan base and some significant female attention. And yeah, it is damn cool and fun to play games any way.

But being professional also requires discipline and focus. You cannot be professional by just playing as a bored amateur player. You will need to spend long hours training with your team which requires a lot of discipline, neuroenergy, sleepless nights, sacrifice and cans of gamers beverage.

Working as a gamer may look very attractive but it has its own difficulties if you are in Singapore and thinking about esports career. Surviving as a professional gamer is difficult here. One needs long hours of trainings for a year or so without significant pay before even making a penny. And trying to do this in one of the most expensive cities is not an easy feat.

Kun Xian Ho - Evolution Championship Series Champion

Take Ho “Xian” Kun Xian for example. This top Singaporean gamer lived on less than US$10,000 a year whilst training and competing as a professional gamer. You may be able to live on less than 10K USD in China but in Singapore it will be really hard.

Esports is also not recognized by the Singaporean government as other sports so the public funds available for professional athletes are not available for gamers (although there are non-profit organizations supporting local Esports teams like SCOGA).

Singapore also does not have significant number of tournaments and price pool so if you want to make money, you need to travel to tournaments in other Asian countries or better to West where there are regular tournaments with prize pools reaching over US$10 million. This is quite expensive until you find a good sponsor.

And last but not the least, traditional conservative families who would make it a goal to push a young man to “get a job, marry, buy a house, by a car, have kids” chain of events would not help. So, although living with parents (like most Singaporeans in their early 20s do) reduces the cost of living for a man to focus on professional gamer training, this will make them expose to constant pressure from their parents to get a job and life. Obligations such as family or national service also often break Singaporean teams apart.

But pay off can be quite high if one is determined to be in the top echelon of esports players. The most successful professional gamer from Singapore, Daryl Koh “iceiceice” Pei Xiang, ranks 24th in top esports players by total earnings and has earned 1,1 Million USD in the past 3.5 years! He earned US$319k in prize money in 2014, and US$499k in 2015. But he had to venture overseas to be earning this much since the West has the deep pool of prices to support such earnings.

IceIceIce,  Daryl Koh, Team Faceless
Credit: Aloysius Low/CNET

Daryl Koh is an outliner though. The second highest earning Singaporean player, Jeng “NutZ” Yih Wong has earned 220 USD in total (since 2014). In Asia, Chinese professional gamers fill in the top ranks as currently 5 out of 10 top earners are from China.

Many would not appreciate the difficulty of becoming a professional gamer, but as Singapore gaming world champion Ho Kun Xian says what esports gamer does is equivalent to professional athletes. Training is vigorous. It may require 10 hours a day to train with the team in the weekends and requires great mental focus and mental clarity as well as discipline to become a professional gamer. 

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