Your biggest video game challenge isn’t beating your older brother at Mario Kart anymore.
Living rooms are being replaced with arenas and your mum’s toasted cheese sandwiches have changed to stadium chips and hot dogs. Gaming is now a professional sport with commentators, crowds and big cash prizes for the victors.
Professional e-gamers around the globe are raking in big dollars playing what they call a “mentally straining sport”.
Take Newcastle-based Call of Duty (COD) specialist Denholm “Denz” Taylor, 20, the top-earning e-gamer in Australia.
That figure is modest compared to the top-five e-gamers in the world, who have all banked more than $US1 million as full-time competitors.
Mr Taylor’s team’s – the Trident T1 Dotters (2014) now Plantronics.Mindfreak (2015) – have put Australian COD gaming on the international map.
His team’s finished fifth and sixth respectively at the 2014 and 2015 Call of Duty World Championships in America – a staggering achievement given they only compete on a part-time basis.
Mr Taylor told The New Daily he “wants gaming to be a full-time thing … to keep competing with the best gamers in the world”.
“I feel for myself there is more money to be made and I’ll continue to strive to make it and be better,” he said.
When he talks tactics he sounds just like an professional footballer: “Some teams are aggressive and some teams play slow.
“So you need to learn how to adjust … it’s always good playing your own team style and your own game plan.
“But sometimes there is a need to change it up for the sake of competition.”
Nintendo held its inaugural World Championship competition this week alongside a range of new product announcements.
The event was live streamed and garnered considerable attention online. The reality is, the seminal gaming brand is late to the competitive gaming table.
Mr Taylor says the sport of e-gaming is massive around the world, in particular Korea and the United States where “gaming personalities make morning television, tournaments are played at the X Games and COD is shown on ESPN”.
“America and Korea is where the money is … if you think you’re good enough you have to go over and prove yourself.”
He was less bullish about the sport ever appearing at the Olympics. But is it a ridiculous notion?
BMX cycling debuted at Beijing 2008 and was held again at London 2012 – remember it also started out as an X Games regular.
What it takes to be a pro
The elite Australian e-gamer offered an insight into the life of a professional player.
“In America you have guys who wake up, play, eat lunch, play, eat dinner, play,” said the commerce student.
“So their regime is quite set. They have a strict regime of waking up, hitting the gym, playing and going over strategy and playing more.”
He said his team are restricted because of work and study commitments, but they use all of their spare time to practice team tactics and individual weaknesses.
“We spend just as much time as a soccer player or an AFL player on our game but it’s still a hobby in Australia and I’d be more full-time if I could,” he said.
“I get home from uni or work at 5pm and play for three hours, the amount of time we put in is quite mentally straining.
“After a day of playing you feel mentally tired.”
“Denz” is currently in training for upcoming Australian Cyber League tournaments with prize pools of $15,000.
“We memorise our gameplan and practice our skill over hours and hours of playing the game online and any spare time where all four, three or two of us are online we always go through things.”
In those competitions he’ll also be playing for “the more important pro-points” which could earn him a trip to America at the end of year.
“I’m a competitive person by nature and I always strive to win because of my own personal hunger,” he said.
Below is a replay of Mr Taylor and his team Trident T1 Dotterz at the 2014 COD World Championships: