How Esports can be seen as a lucrative career option in India
When Indians think of sports, they conjure up images of cricket, football, hockey, kabbadi and a host of other physical games in which athletic prowess is essential to playing well. However, slowly but surely, another sporting ecosystem is emerging in the country, one in the digital realm of Esports.
While at the moment the Esports industry in India is at a nascent stage, if global trends are any indication, esports and its accompanying ecosystem have the potential to rival traditional sports leagues in India, just as they do overseas.
Most people who are unfamiliar with Esports would think that only those who play Esports earn money. Of course, at the heart of Esports are the players and teams, the ones putting on a show of skill and tactics as they fight for glory.
Yet nothing could be further from the truth. Like any sporting ecosystem, it takes a lot of people in a variety of roles to make Esports tournaments work. Just as the Indian Premier League is more than just the superstars on the pitch, so is Esports bigger than just the gamers the audience gets to see on screen.
Roles and support services around Esports
The infrastructure that supports and continues to propel Esports to new heights is no different than that which supports any other sport.
Esports tournaments are created by producers who employ teams of editors, photographers, hosts, interviewers, analysts, entire production crews and even makeup artists to name just a few roles.
Today the industry is moving in a direction where it is creating exciting careers in tertiary roles beyond just the players.
Many who work in these roles are passionate gamers who may not have the drive or willingness to play and compete. Yet their understanding of the games and the industry make them invaluable to the production flow compared to a non-gamer within the same role.
One of the most crucial roles within Esports broadcast is of the casters, comparable to commentators in traditional sports. Imagine watching a cricket or football match where commentators are putting all the action into context, drawing upon historical references and creating an entire narrative around the players and teams that elevates your overall viewing experience.
Similarly, casters in Esports have the task of explaining and detailing the play by play action in the world of Esports. Each Esport title is unique, requiring casters to understand every minute mechanic, multiple maps and hundreds of potential strategies before even getting to the teams, players and their form.
All of this combined with the sheer pace at which high level Esports matches occur, one might even say that an Esports caster operates at a higher level of pressure and performance than traditional sports commentators.
Another interesting role in the world of Esports is that of an in-game observer. Just as camera operators film traditional sporting events, so do in-game observers capture what’s happening in a game from inside the game. Their need to understand the game, prepare for multiple potential outcomes and quick decisions help make sure viewers never miss any action.
As from any cricket fan in India, some of the first names you will hear will be of Harsha Bhogle, Mayanti Langer and Gaurav Kapur who are at the forefront of major event broadcasts, similarly the world of Esports has its own popular and more than capable set of hosts, commentators and presenters anchoring major events and broadcasts throughout the year for popular games.
Companies creating roadmap for the industry
The Esports and gaming industry today is one of the fastest growing entertainment segments in the world with revenues surpassing the film and music industry. Top players and teams around the world are starting to step out of the shell of gaming with collaborations with brands like Gucci, Luis Vuitton and Mercedes. In more advanced markets esports athletes make millions each year and are akin to superstars just like top athletes.
India, thanks to its much younger gaming demographic and relatively late entry into the world of gaming, is primed to be one of the biggest markets in the next decade.
The low cost of digital devices and inexpensive data means that not only are millions of Indians gaming, but also hungry for content, creating the perfect conditions for a successful and thriving Esports ecosystem.
For the time being, those who are part of this broadcast and content ecosystem in India earn more modest salaries than their peers in places like the US, EU, Korea, and Japan.
This is mostly due to the decentralised and unorganised nature of the Esports ecosystem in India with very few game publishers working with organisers to establish more long-term competitive opportunities leading to the need for more stable opportunities within the space.
Today top casters can earn anywhere between Rs 20K- Rs 30K a day during physical events. However it is important to remember they usually only work 8-10 days a quarter due to the infrequent nature of events in the Indian Esports industry.
The landscape however, is constantly evolving and growing. We are witnessing massive growth in online Esports events with increasing investments by publishers and brands to engage with gamers online in the face of the current scenario of cancelled events and gamers remaining indoors.
This growth is being led by titles like PUBG Mobile, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege, Counter Strike: Global Offensive and much more recently Valorant leading the way with major tournaments, leagues and long-term opportunities within the Esports industry.
We are at the dawn of an exciting new era of entertainment in India. One driven by competitive video games and an ever-increasing work force of millennials breaking barriers of an age-old broadcast industry with unparalleled energy and gusto.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)