6 Awesome Gaming Related Careers You Didn't Know Existed

The general public is (finally) starting to realize there's money to be made in video gaming, and that it's not an annoying, nerdy little thing that will go away if you punch it enough. Though people will continue to "what is this, I don't even" over things like a Heroes Of The Storm being broadcast on ESPN2, we're not that far off from a future in which we will worship these new celebrities and the people who support them. And in true capitalist fashion, we'll shower our heroes with gold.

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6
Competitive eSports Athlete

Ana Douglas / Business Insider

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Think eSports aren't real sports that involve real money? Think again. The 2013 League Of Legends finals sold out the Staples Center in an hour. And in 2013, the US officially recognized competitive gaming as a pro sport, putting it right up there in legitimacy with curling and mini golf.

Rob Stothard/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Legally, this is now more sporty than cheerleading.

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We're always in search of new ways to see the good guys rip the bad guys to shreds, so it makes sense that eSports would capture our attention in the same ways that football, soccer, and chess boxing have. It just seems so much less barbaric -- and more exciting -- to watch digital avatars tear off each other's limbs and burn each other to a crisp with lasers than it is to see real-life lumps of clothed meat smacking repeatedly into each other. And the great part is that you only need one skill in order to start.

How To Get In:

Get really good at playing games. Or, to be more specific, one game in particular. Playing games professionally is often a full-time job, and very few people excel at multiple titles (though the ranks of more casual eSports, such as Hearthstone or Barbie's Fun Time Spa Day, swell with retired pros barely into their thirties). Most of the time, you won't need formal education or training, but you will need to play a lot. Like, enough that if Fox News heard about your schedule, they'd do a story on you, holding you up as a sign of the coming apocalypse.

Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images
Though to be fair, they do that with everybody.

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Your practice schedule alone is exactly the opposite of what the entire world considers sane. Expect to put in at least six to eight hours a day, not including travel or tournament time. That might not sound like a big deal, but as with many sports, players usually put in the hours on top of their regular school or work schedules -- and only the best of the best make it work full time.

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What It's Like On The Inside:

Once you make it to the point where you can support yourself off of gaming, the hours aren't such a big deal. Though say goodbye to your social life, as you'll likely play when everyone else is asleep. Unless, of course, you're like xPeke -- or sexPeke, as he's more commonly known -- and you can roll subtle seduction into your promotional activities. (What, you thought eSports athletes wouldn't leverage their fame to get with the ladies?)

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"Eight bits by day, eight inches by night."

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At this point in your career, you'll have plenty of time to watch the sweet, sweet cash flow in. Though eSports athletes haven't quite reached the eight-figure payouts common amongst players of more traditional sports, their earnings are still solid -- and on the rise. Dota 2 and StarCraft II tend to lead the pack, with tournament prizes regularly hitting $200,000 or more. Samsung White, the winners of the 2014 League Of Legends world championship, took home a cool million in prize money. Which, in modern games, is roughly what you'll need in order to upgrade your computer to run the new expansions. In addition, many players on well-known teams receive decent salaries just for showing up.

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Speaking of which ... notice something about the Whites' team name? Sponsorships are a huge deal in the competitive eSports scene. The lucrative nature of getting your logo plastered all over professional gamers is not hard to fathom. Sure, maybe a soccer fan will go out and buy some Messi shoes, which will promptly be relegated to the bowels of the nearest closet. But when it comes to gaming, pretty much every spectator is also a player, and all that gear you're pushing is essential to their own inevitable climbs to glory. Sweet, geeky, sit-on-their-ass-and-get-paid glory.

5
Anti-Cheat Software Engineer

Photos.com/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images

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If you have a passion for justice but prefer staring down the barrels of digital guns over real ones, consider a career in anti-cheat software.

Cheating in games has been around pretty much since the beginning. In fact, some of the earliest cheat codes were built into games by the developers themselves to make testing easier. Because apparently, life isn't like Grandma's Boy, and it eventually becomes boring when you test video games for a living.

20th Century Fox
And if the monkey shreds your face because you stared at it too long,
good luck getting medical leave.

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No one really cared much about cheating when games were single-player or couch co-op. But everything changed when people started manipulating games where your opponents couldn't punish you by stealing the good controller. Especially because the cases weren't isolated. In 2006, at least 10,000 people were cheating in games like Counter-Strike every week, according to data gathered by Valve's anti-cheat software.

Valve Corporation
Because what fun is corpse-humping whoever you just pwned if you don't earn the right to do it?

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Millions of gamers spend their hard-earned cash on systems of interactions that they believe to be fair (or at least, only broken in ways deemed acceptable by the developers). Not only that, but as tournaments and competitions rake in more and more money, the scrutiny on game fairness grows. The stakes are always getting higher; a few vulnerable lines of code can mean the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

How To Get In:

Companies like Valve and Blizzard usually have multiple listings at any given time for anti-cheat software engineers on their job openings pages, such as this one. Other companies, like Riot, use the broader term "security engineer." Which is basically gamer for "OMG FIX TEH TANK HAX!!1"

Ciaran Griffin/Photodisc/Getty Images
"Superman's got Lex Luthor; I've got Bob the Wallhacker."

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Most positions of this type require a degree in computer science from a reputable university. Although we can't say for sure whether going to jail for being really good at cheating won't land you a spot, like in Catch Me If You Can.

What It's Like On The Inside:

We know the neon-streaked fever dream scenes from Hackers are playing on a loop in your head right about now, but it's not quite as glamorous as you might think. Most of the work done by anti-cheat and security engineers involves writing software to resolve vulnerabilities and detect foul play, instead of actually wading into the fray to battle vicious bots and suspicious players head-on in a pulsating, symbol-filled visualized Internet landscape. According to GameSpot, the average person working at a game company made $84,000 per year in 2012, and we imagine that they pay the people who keep all the characters' faces from being covered in genitalia quite a bit more.

kieferpix/iStock/Getty Images
"Asking for a dollar per dick was the best decision of my life."

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Then again, the games industry is notorious for long hours and high turnover, so you better be dedicated to the cause if you choose this as your path in life.

4
Team Manager (And House Mom)

HyperX

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Team manager is a common occupation in sports, but video game teams take it to the next level. Professional teams will occasionally put their players in team houses, giving the manager or another employee the additional role of house mom, with responsibilities ranging from preparing meals and keeping the pantry stocked with energy drinks to soothing the athletes with guitar tunes during their downtime. Those who fill these roles might get fancy titles like "player logistics manager," but at the end of the day, they're trying to make sure that their pet geeks get enough food and water, and that they don't party too hard or stay up all night playing Candy Crush before a big match.

King
Or play Candy Crush, period.

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How To Get In:

Team managers almost always have experience in the games and with the teams they manage, sometimes transitioning to management when they retire from professional gaming (often before hitting age 30).

Micko1986/iStock/Getty Images
You can only spawn camp so many n00bz before they all start to blend together.

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You'll see a lot of terms like "managing facilities operations" tossed around. (That's the way Anna Prosser describes her work at the Evil Geniuses StarCraft II training house.) Which gives you a hint that it's a lot less like hanging out with cool people who play games all day and a lot more like your typical administrative office job involving purchasing, receiving, inventory management, and maintenance tasks. And occasionally having to break up infighting with a stern, "No! XxxBONE69, we do not hit! Do you hear me? No hitting. Now you apologize to TurdCorn."

What It's Like On The Inside:

As anyone who has ever paid attention to their mom's activities beyond harboring a simmering resentment for interrupted gaming time knows, running a house -- or a team -- can be a 24/7 job.

Tara Moore/Taxi/Getty Images
Especially when TurdCorn hits a rebellious phase and refuses to stop teabagging his coworkers.

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It's hard to find solid salary statistics, since the position is still fairly rare. At least in some cases, people will volunteer for management and related roles in hopes of proving their value and eventually getting paid. However, former team members are in a much better position to negotiate salaries befitting their status. Unless you're one of those, you'll likely end up being Intern Mom ... which actually gives me an idea for a Disney movie.

3
Professional Twitch Streamer

Dion Anderson

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You don't have to win tournaments to make money playing games. If you're entertaining enough, you can get paid to let people watch you play. Sure, it sounds a bit creepy to set up a webcam on top of your computer and let the world into your bedroom, but it sure beats having to put on nice clothes and carry a bat. (Sorry, I just always picture the "average job" to be a mafia debt collector.)

peter zelei/E+/Getty Images
"You gonna pay Mario back those coins of his,
or are you gonna sleep with the Cheep-Cheeps?"

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You'd think there couldn't possibly be enough nerds wanting to watch other nerds fiddle with keyboards and scream obscenities into their microphones to make a profitable business. Not so, according to Amazon -- it bought Twitch in late 2014 for $970 million. Since then, Twitch's stats have only gotten better. According to the website, viewers watched 12 billion minutes per month in December 2014.

How To Get In:

eSports athletes have to put in endless hours of training to reach a competitive level, and engineers who want to stop people breaking games need formal education. In a way, streamers have it easy -- they only have to be interesting enough to watch. So staring dead-eyed into a monitor and smashing drool-covered keys probably isn't going to cut it.

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And the things hordes of Internet-crawlers desperate for sensationalism find interesting can be ... unexpected. Just take a look at how fast Tay Zonday (of "Chocolate Rain" fame) rose to success on the platform. Despite barely being able to understand the mechanics of the games he plays (or the world in which he resides), Tay has managed to lure in more than 35,000 followers in a few short months.

Tay Zonday
Because once you're famous for one second for one thing, you're famous forever for everything.

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What It's Like On The Inside:

According to Forbes, streamers on the high end make $100,000 to $300,000 annually on streaming alone. Popular streamer sodapoppin has received multiple donations over $10,000. But that pales in comparison to world-renowned streamer and YouTuber PewDiePie, who makes $4 million a year (including non-streaming sources).

Viktor Flume
Attention, tantrum-throwing kids of the world: Unending screaming will get you everywhere.

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The more exposure you get, the more options you have to expand upon your revenue sources. The constant accessibility offered by many streamers builds rabid communities, and there are many individuals and companies that will pay top dollar to tap into those markets. But again, probably not if you're a boring sack of crap.

2
Shoutcaster

GOMtv

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Shoutcasters provide commentary for eSports, similar to traditional sports commentators or pundits like John Madden ... only more coherent. eSports commentary is an interesting amalgam, with shoutcasters often having to both appeal to veteran players of the games and bring newcomers into the fold. It's harder than it sounds. Try watching someone play a game you don't give a crap about, and see how long you last before throwing a passing cat at the screen.

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Traditional commentators pretty much only have a job during major sporting events. However, their eSports brethren have a wealth of material to show off, even when nothing particularly interesting is happening live. Replays drive avid gamers to watch on repeat, providing a veritable goldmine of in-demand demographic eyeballs for advertisers and sponsors.

Occasionally, popular shoutcasters will join forces in order to better entertain the noob masses, as Maximus Black and Novawar did when they formed Life's A Glitch TV. With the kind of viewership they garner, it's almost more accurate at this point to start calling them a fledgling media conglomerate instead of "guys who know more about StarCraft than you do about eating." And these guys take it to a whole new level, holding their own sponsored tournaments, as well as making fun of the worst players in the world and turning the entire cast into a comedy routine. If you haven't seen them, you need to right now. Especially their "When Cheese Fails" series.

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How To Get In:

As with streaming, the most important thing is to get your face in front of the crowd doing what you do best: game commentary and analysis. You won't get far without extensive in-depth knowledge of mechanics and technique that you can pull from at a moment's notice. Of course, skillful application of "hype train" puns can be useful too.

Azubu TV
Choo-choo whistle and conductor hat not included, but totally necessary.

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Many shoutcasters get their start showing old game footage, with their melodious voices providing a play-by-play guide to the action. Sometimes, professional or semi-professional players like Sean Plott (aka Day9) transition into 'casting after leaving the stressful and cutthroat world of professional play. Though I prefer to think of him as a retired cop who was just too gritty for The Man's rules, so he struck out on his own.

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Similarly, Shaun Clark (aka Apollo) moved on to 'casting StarCraft after retiring from professional Command & Conquer play.

What It's Like On The Inside:

Shoutcasters can enjoy passive income from sites such as YouTube. Some 'casters do stream the games they love, or even host and commentate on their favorite streamers (though in this case, ad revenue goes to the hosted channel).

In addition, there are all sorts of companies who will pay big bucks to have access to your knack for getting people to love watching other people play video games. Established eSports like League Of Legends have their regular stables of tournament commentators. In other cases, companies like Sony will hire shoutcasters to promote new products (like when Sony teamed up with TotalBiscuit to launch PlanetSide 2 at E3).

Daybreak Game Company
Not unlike that time Robert Johnson teamed up with Satan to make pretty music.

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Also, I just realized that referring to real humans by their Internet handles never stops being weird.

1
Crowdfunding Campaign Manager

Thomas Barwick/Stone/Getty Images

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Have a great idea for a game, but don't have the money or team to see your awesome vision through? That's what crowdfunding is for! Just throw up a page, pull at the heartstrings of the gaming community with nostalgia or pictures of cats, and watch the ducats roll in.

Okay, so it's not quite as easy as that. Still, if you're looking to make bank and not just fleece your parents and that weird neighbor for a couple hundred bucks to fund your hair-removal project, you're on the right track by choosing to make a game. Half of the most funded Kickstarters of all time are game-related.

Ryan Grepper
The less we say about each one losing to a goddamn cooler, the better.

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As with any successful newfangled method for getting schmucks to empty their pockets, there's a whole industry of people ready to make a buck off of people looking to make a buck off of games. Consultants continue to flock to this expanding industry, and established marketing and PR companies relish the opportunity to expand their customer bases.

How To Get In:

It's a huge help if you've run a successful crowdfunding campaign yourself. It's hard to talk the talk unless you've walked the walk in a seriously impressive way. You certainly don't need a degree to do that, but you will need to develop a new skill or two -- namely, social media promotion, videography, sales, content marketing, PR, finance, logistics, shipping, and a few other things. Basically, all the boring classes from college.

James Woodson/Digital Vision/Getty Images
You know, the ones you kept skipping to play more video games.

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Getting noticed largely comes down to building relationships in your desired niche -- in this case, spending time with local game developers is ideal. Every person who even considers launching a campaign on a site like Kickstarter is propositioned more heavily than a Ferrari cruising through the Tenderloin District (and yes, I did just Google "places with the most prostitutes" to come up with that metaphor). In order to cut through the noise, you'll have to establish trust with your prospective fantasy product mongers. Which is convenient, because building trust with people you're trying to separate from their money is the basis of a successful campaign.

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What It's Like On The Inside:

In an effort to break into the industry, wannabe campaign managers will sometimes offer their services for a cut of the proceeds once the project is successful. This can work on occasion, but it can also lead to a "why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free" situation.

Successful crowdfunding consultants can easily raise millions of dollars per year. Even if the company that raised $18 million over the course of four years only charged five percent of whatever their clients raised (the amount Kickstarter charges for allowing you to flood their swanky Brooklyn office with champagne and celebrities), they'd still be looking at a sizable payday of almost a million dollars. Once you've proven your worth, of course, you'll want to make sure you get paid up front for all the work you'll put in. Business-wise, it's the difference between being Wedge Antilles and Han Solo.

20th Century Fox
That's the face of a man praying his "blow up the Death Star" paycheck clears this time.

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And then you can go back to appeasing the frothing throngs when your client's game inevitably hits development snags and eventually goes to that great cartridge burial ground in the sky.

Watch Emma Larkins muddle through complicated bread mechanics and bask in the glory of Pajamathur on her Twitch channel. You can also check out her first science fiction novel, Mechalarum and follow her on Twitter as she attempts to keep a small segment of society moderately entertained.

For more from Emma on Cracked, check out 5 Movie Romances That Won't Last (According to Science) and 7 Signs of Old Age That Hit Most People When They're Young.

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