Everyone knows there’s no age limit to gaming. You can start by pawing aimlessly at a keyboard at 8-months old or play Skyrim at 84, it’s all about passion. When gaming turns competitive, things get harder. Here a few things to look out for when becoming a pro-gamer after 30.
1. Pro-gaming communities don’t discriminate by age
There is no barrier to entry in gaming as a hobby, however, there are plenty to turning pro. Namely, other much better gamers. One has to accept that there’s a reason those kids playing Fortnite can build entire mansions with rooftop gardens and helipads in just the time it takes us to locate where the shots are coming from. However, with practice and time, anyone can learn to throw up 5-second skyscrapers and figure out game specific nuances and “git gud”.
A quick visit to old man Google told me the average age of a pro-gamer is somewhere between 25 and 27 (depending on the game) but that isn’t indicative of how broad spectrum the age range really is. According to ESportsEarnings.com, there are players as old 70 who are into competitive gaming and some around 60 who have made upwards of 5-figures from a single tournament and hundreds of them well over 40.
So where does this mentality that old is unacceptable come from? As far as we can tell, from gatekeepers with no real authority, who just refuse to acknowledge the viability of becoming a pro-gamer after 30.
There isn’t any scientific study that suggests an aged gamer cannot turn pro. Many that suggest they will have a hard time (stupid biology), but none outright denying it.
In online forums visitors speak of 30-year-old gamers as if they’re talking about their distant geriatric relative who has slowly regained the ability to chew after a debilitating stroke. The very thought of a tricennial in gaming makes them dry heave. Imagine if someone over 40 logged in to a game stream, they’d go scurrying for the holy cross to repel the undead that now walk among them.
Gaming tournaments have only one requirement, beat the qualifiers and in you go.
2. A new game means starting over
Even though all shooter games are built around the “drag the cursor to the moving thing and click” mechanic, they are not all the same. How the game responds to your movement, how the moving objects react, how much damage you do, per click, how much you’re moving yourself, etc. factors in to how one game differs from another.
These minor differences mean that even if you were bloody good at Unreal Tournament 2004, does not mean you’ll be any good with Unreal Tournament 3. Even though they share similarities. Or, if we talk about games that aren’t older than some of our children, Fortnite players have no evident advantage in Call of Duty Warzone, or CS:GO.
While the learning curve isn’t akin to learning to walk all over again, it is more like being a racecar driver and being given a new car. Or, in most cases, a Prius driver being given an F1 or NASCAR . For the most part, your greatest accomplishment will just be survival. That’s becoming a pro-gamer after 30.
This is why there are 60-something pro-gamers who are competing in 20-year-old games, because it’s what they know and are good at.
Mastering every aspect of a game is what sets pros apart from filthy casuals (I know I did not using that right, but it applies here). You can master any game, but expect a dip in performance when you start a new one because they definitely don’t perform equally.
3. Biology isn’t as bad as you might think
Studies suggest that the human brain could continue developing for as long as your 30’s. A child’s brain is a sponge, soaking up languages and phrases by the day while we’re barely able to english very goodly.
Our brains excogitate (I used a big word lest you think me an illterate) patterns as we grow older to make sense of things.
20-year olds have better hand-eye coordination, they are able to memorize better and react faster, however, with practice, an aged brains get better at recognizing patterns.
That means, while 20-year olds are identifying targets and shooting faster, 40-year olds are able to filter out the noise and hit their targets.
The thought that a 30+ gamer might as well be geriatric is not founded in scientific reality. Anyone over 30 might recall Fatal1ty. He was the face of Creative’s sound card lines (we used to install dedicated sound cards like GPUs, get over it) and quite literally the face of early e-sports. Today, he only has 9.5k followers on his YouTube as of the writing of this article. He hasn’t posted anything in a while, but definitely subscribe to his channel.
If you watch his videos, instead of firing miracle trick shots between microscopic spaces, he bides his time and gets his kills. While his style of gameplay might not be the guns blazing approach we’ve seen from the likes of Ninja, he takes his time to see the situation and respond. This might not make for a fun watch, but it gets results. In the video below, around the 4-minute mark, he sees a player, chucks a molotov at him and without confirming, just waits for him on the other side. That’s how you capitalize on patterns.
4. Our specialty games might no longer be “IN”
In competitive gaming, Medal of Honor- Allied Assault, Unreal Tournament, and later CoD: Modern Warfare (the original, not the remaster) were my jam. I played the original Unreal Tournament, UT 2003, UT 2004, UT 3, and I still dabble in the Epic Store’s pre-alpha that you can try out today. Of the more recent entries, I had a greater affinity towards Team Fortress 2. In fact, I can still do alright in those games. My other game jams were WWE Smackdown (HCTP), Tekken, MK, SF, FIFA 1997-2003, C&C, Red Alert and Age of Empires.
Games like League of Legends, DOTA 2, Counter-Strike and their ilk are the ones that ESL (E-Sports League) prefer and that’s what fills out stadiums full of fans. If that’s your goal, then you need to get with the times. However, if you just want to play your game in a competitive environment for cash prizes, there are still tournaments going on for games from the mid-90’s. They just have a limited fanbase, is all.
Although if your affinity is towards linear competitive arcade games like Tekken, Street Fighter, FIFA, NFL, etc. then those games don’t change as much over time and still command a sizeable following.
5. Progress is going to be a grind
Pro gamers are able to see, shoot at, kill a player that you were absolutely certain was a blade of grass. This could be because they’re playing on enormous screens, maybe they’ve spent enough time in the game to understand elements better than newbies.
ProTip: If you are struggling with identifying moving figures, turn the graphics to the lowest settings and that’ll help you see things more clearly
This doesn’t happen by taking joy in something, that’s part of it, but after the first few hundred hours, it becomes a grind and the joy is lifted from it. If you can accept that, then you can build.
That experience is consistent for anyone who starts a new game. It starts as this big complicated mess of things you don’t even understand and slowly becomes second nature. You eventually master the controls and learn to use all the bugs and faults to your advantage and this slow steady progression that all of us are quite familiar with (via careers and relationships) makes us one of those people who can immediately tell the difference between a distant player and a blade of grass.
But, that means you might have to contend with the constant repetitive grind of the approach, but that’s what defines a winning attitude.
6. You can afford better gear
Unless they’re from wealth, many pro-gamers start out with simple hardware and make do with whatever they have at the time. Only when pro-gaming pays off, can people branch out into building crazy battle-stations.
However, you’ve already started building a life (in some cases very successfully), it might not be “crazy battle station at a whim” amount of money, but probably enough to afford slightly better things than teenagers and early 20 gamers.
This gives you a competitive advantage starting out. Rather than play with some crummy off-the-shelf hardware with an iffy lifeline, you can play with a pro-gaming mouse with an optical mechanical keyboard (slightly faster than a regular one), or a great controller, on a 1ms screen with high refresh rates, listen via crystal clear pro-headphones, while sat atop a comfortable chair in a nice part of your home.
If nothing else, you can afford a pretty nifty gaming laptop.
7. You can’t skip your responsibilities
This is the major reason why there aren’t as many 30+ gamers in e-sports arenas. 30-year olds have spent a life building everything around them. They can’t just risk everything at a whim. There needs to be a plan and deliberation.
Fees, bills, rent, food and other expenditures that accumulate over decades of rolling around on this blue ball of water and dirt we call Earth are not going to go away while we pursue our dreams.
Also, if someone has kids, they have to help raise them. It’s not enough to just breed children and throw them out into the wild, one has to spend time with them, listen to their boring worthless stories as they learn not to stare directly into the sun for too long.
That, coupled with a job, eats up whatever is left of an adult’s time. Even if they can carve out an hour for practice it won’t be enough as pro-gamers are playing 7-8 hours every day to hone their skills.
However, if over 30 gamers turn pro, then we know that we can replace our earnings with your pro-earnings. We do this because if we don’t, we are not the only ones taking the risk, our entire family is.
That got real, let’s dumb it down a notch with a few more quick points.
8. Don’t Play Competitive Games with Minors
Other than the fact that it is embarassing to get pwned by something that didn’t exist in the 90’s and that thing makes high pitches squeals when they win, you shouldn’t be playing with them because they themselves are still learning, a vast majority of competitve players are between 18 and 34 years old. You stand a better chance to learn from more experienced players than you would from fellow n00bs.
9. Livestreaming is a viable option
If you’re going to spend time learning how to play a game anyway, you might consider streaming the whole thing. With the likes of Mixer, Twitch, YouTube live and even Facebook getting in on the action, you can gradually build yourself an audience and that generates reasonable revenue as well. While the top-tier livestream is dominated by pros who stream on the side, there are some really good livestreamers out there who make some good money pursuing their dreams.
10. Don’t practice on pirated games
This is usually not something 30-somethings are caught doing as much, but it bears stating. While we could just say, “don’t pirate games” and leave it at that, we’d like to elaborate on that. It isn’t just that it is illegal and that you will promptly be ejected from the arena. You stand to lose personally, as well. Suppose a competitive game could be played illegally (obviously we’re not saying which ones or how), you won’t have timely access to patches, updates, or reasonable competition. It won’t prepare you for the pro-leagues in any meaningful way. Besides, if you are going to consider turning it into a career, then why not invest into the cost of gaming.
11. Pick a responsible gamertag/handle
Just stay away from mentioning your privates. We’re all responsible adults here, it’s been said, we all get it. Let’s move on.
That’s about all there is to it.
TL;DR nothing in life is impossible, people start running marathons at 70, bodybuilding at 60 and the determined mind is a testament to a thriving human spirit and blah de blah. Just put in the hours and you’ll be right up there.
“You can do anything you set your mind to” – Literally anyone named Harry on Instagram, gazing off into the sunset.