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Esports in India: According to the FICCI-EY Media and Entertainment Report 2022, the number of e-sports players in India doubled from 300,000 in 2020 to 600,000 in 2021. Here's how to make a career in e-sports.
“A 12-year-old me playing Counter-Strike with his elder brother didn’t know he’d be playing the same game in 2023 on a TV show with thousands of eyes on him, and winning a part of the Rs 50 lakh pot — that’s the beauty of rise of e-sports in India,” said 24-year-old content creator/gamer Adit Minocha who recently won the title of best gamer in the season two of world's first gaming entertainment show, Playground.
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Minocha is amongst many from the younger generation who have started gaining fame and money from the rise of e-sports (Electronic Sports) in India. Often confused with regular video games, e-sports has been seeing a massive rise in India in the recent years. In fact, the gaming industry in India was expected to grow by 20-30 percent and likely create one lakh new direct and indirect employment by the end of FY23, according to a report from staffing company TeamLease Digital. these numbers have yet to be verified.
According to a report by EY titled "Ready.Set.Game ON," India is expected to experience one of the fastest increases in Esports viewership and revenue, growing fourfold to Rs 1,100 crore by 2025.
To further strengthen the industry, the government on December 27 integrated e-sports with mainline sports disciplines in India and recognised it as part of a 'multisport' event. E-sports will now come under the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs.
The rise and rise of e-sports in India
In technical language, the term "e-sports" involves the organised, competitive video gaming industry. Tournaments form a major part of e-sports and in these, players from various leagues or teams compete against one another.
India has seen a massive rise in the tournament and even dedicated platforms that organise these gaming leagues. BGMI, PUBG, Call of Duty, Tekken 7, DOTA 2, FIFA are amongst the more popular e-sports games in India. This has been aided by India’s younger generation.
“The ideal target audience for a career is e-sports in Millennials and GenZ. Since this audience can relate more to the industry and customer trends. With the funds flowing in the industry, the growth has been faster,” said Soham Thacker, Founder-CEO, Gamerji.
Independent e-sports and live streaming platform Loco, which has been in the industry for the past three years, organised an 8Bit Thug’s Invitational tournament in January which crossed 100,000 concurrent live views and the finals of Skyesports' AMD BGMI Grand Slam tournament saw 160,000 concurrent live views February, according to the company.
The growth is so high that recently, the Indian DOTA 2 squad won a bronze medal at the Commonwealth E-sports Championship. One thing that has also been aiding the industry is adaptability.
“Gaming is not limited to only e-sport competitors, but it is to be cherished by everyone,” said gamer and digital content creator Vanshaj Singh, who was the most valued player in Playground season two.
Is there a career scope in e-sports?
Although Esports is a fairly new industry with respect to scope in India it’s still seen a lot of potential with respect to employment. According to the FICCI-EY Media and Entertainment Report 2022, the number of Esports players in India doubled from 300,000 in 2020 to 600,000 in 2021.
As per Ashwin Suresh, Founder, Loco, the employment trends in Esports apart from professional gamers, coaches, analysts, and event organisers include game development (programmers, artists, audio engineers and game designers), event management, marketing, content creation, and broadcasting. The industry also requires professionals in technology, software development, and data analytics.
Further organisations are also investing in content creation and marketing campaigns to promote their Esports offerings, leading to an increased demand for digital marketing and social media professionals. Although the Esports industry has no age restriction as such, the major employment in the industry is driven by the GenZ. Experts also mention that GenZ and millennials are the target audience for the industry.
However Vanshaj advises that making a career in Esports is a slow, bumpy ride. It'll make a lot of sense if it’s done along with the studies then taken forward as a full time career option.
“One thing I always tell everyone is that this is not a race, it's a marathon. It doesn't matter how fast you finish, but for how long you can actually run.” said Vanshaj.
What drives GenZ into the Esports industry?
When you are in school or college, it’s very common for you to be interested in video games right? Well according to Minocha, the emergence of more and more e-sports gaming leagues and the chance of actually earning money through e-sports is what’s driving the GenZ into the industry.
Meanwhile, according to 26-year-old, Kaashvi Hiranandani (Kaashvi Plays) youths are driven into e-sports because of the sense of community, freedom and self expression.
“We enjoy playing games and participating in online communities where they can connect with other players who share similar interests.” she added.
Further the it’s not the GenZ that feels liberated by the e-sports industry — it’s also women. E-sports is a male-dominated industry with a very few female gamers, as games in any any form, be it traditional or non-traditional, are often associated with men. But now, with time, more and more women have started coming up in the industry.
According to 22-year-old Kanika Bisht (Kani Gaming) the freedom that video games provide, the independence and the increasing opportunities is driving women into it but the road is still long.
“In recent years, female gamers have been actively participating in e-sports tournaments, and that number is only growing. I am confident that this trend will continue in the future, creating more opportunities for women to work in the e-sports industry,” added Bisht.
How can one make a career in e-sports?
The path to making a career in e-sports starts with having a passion for the games. ”Career is e-sports as a gamer (like any other sport) starts at a young age and by practising your skills on a daily basis,” said Shetty.
According to Suresh, the first step is to understand the basics of gaming and the industry by researching popular games, leagues, and tournaments. The second step is developing the right skills through consistent practice and participating in online tournaments to make your name as an e-sports competitor.
“Polishing skills such as communication, teamwork, and problem-solving are also essential to success in e-sports. Stay up-to-date about the game and the latest news and trends to adapt and evolve as the industry grows and changes over time,” added Suresh.
The third step involves creating an impressive portfolio which can help you become a professional competitor. As per Suresh, this can be done by reaching out to employers, participating in open tryouts, and highlighting your accomplishments, both in and out of the game. A strong online presence further enhances the likeliness of being selected.
Additionally If you're not competitive in terms of video games, you can always pursue careers in this field in strategy research, game creation, creative writing, sales and marketing, or data analytics. Think about what you are enthusiastic about, then proceed accordingly.
What financial investments are required?
“If you're starting out in gaming or e-sports, capital is necessary. I won't lie to that. You need a good PC or a good mobile phone if you want gaming. But you can always start with your phone like any phone you have in your hand,” said Vanshraj.
Suresh advises people to start investing in training or coaching programmes, attending industry events and conferences, or building a personal brand through social media and content creation once you feel have done your research and taken your journey ahead with some steps.
When it comes to money, it can depend from role to role in the industry. “There are largely three ways to make earnings in this industry — regular streaming games, promotional brand deals, and prize money from tournaments. Additionally, some e-sports companies may hire them as a player, coach, shout-casters, or team member, paying them a monthly salary,” said Bisht.
Another way of making money in the e-sports industry is combining it with gaming and content creation. Vanshaj advises people who are just beginning their journey to opt for games that run on low graphics and try to shoot a video out of it.
“If you're liking the process, I think only then you should invest in a better gear. And if you think you can really do this for years to come without seeing any growth, you should invest in more equipment like whatever your source of streaming or gaming is like how much you can also the part where you expect to earn from the industry,” he added.
First Published: Apr 23, 2023 11:52 AM IST
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