I could never be a professional gamer. Not only do they get paid worse than professional anything, (Except teachers; no one gets paid less than teachers.) but they have none of the prestige of other professional competitors. Even pro poker players probably attract more positive attention and much more money. Speaking as a goony shut-in who plays and writes about video games full-time, I’m not the extroverted social type anyway, so I’m not missing out on big parties and accolades. Though I would gladly sacrifice my privacy to earn even the paltry amounts grossed by professional gamers, there are setbacks other than my lack of spine preventing me.
For example, there’s the fact that I don’t have that competitive spirit. Sorry, Pokémon, I most certainly do not have the desire to be the very best. I’ve beaten a few notoriously difficult games like Devil May Cry 3 on Very Hard Mode (Fun), Legacy of the Wizard (Fun), and Battletoads (Not fun). I’ve won a couple small-time local Street Fighter IV tournaments. But I will never play fighting games near the level of Daigo Umehara or Kuroda. I’ll never play shmups as well as this guy or Tetris as good as this mad genius. (I’ll never write as well as Seanbaby!) I’ll never even master strategy RPGs like Tactics Ogre the way some of my friends have. And you know what? I’m fine with that. Someone has to be the best at something and it’s not me. That’s not morally wrong. We can’t all be ubermenschen.
At the same time, I’m not going to fall into scrubdom and complain about the no-life tryhards who are actually good at the games they play. I have great respect for the masters of any particular art, even if it’s for playing a game I don’t particularly enjoy. It takes incredible skill to excel at Starcraft, Quake III Arena, and other famous tournament games for which I have no talent. Even that moron Fatal1ty is vastly superior to me in skill. I must give respect where it is due.
I play a lot of League of Legends, a highly competitive game with a bloodthirsty and hostile community. I don’t get along with most of them. I’m decent with about three characters out of the ~100 that are available. But I enjoy myself. (When my teammates aren’t saying “ks me fag newb, gg surrender at 20, reported”.) I sometimes play against other humans and win. I’ve overcome the game’s huge learning curve and feel myself always progressing. But there are always those who far eclipse me in this game. Sometimes they’re on my team, sometimes they’re on the opposite side. Sometimes they are reasonable human beings, very frequently they are arrogant pricks.
But even as I admire the skills (If not the personalities) of these experts, I could never be them. I could not make the sacrifice. I don’t have the discipline to excel at any games. I chose to be a jack of all trades: gamer, writer, literature reader, music fan, film watcher, historian, (very amateurish) philosopher. As the great author Robert A. Heinlein said, “Specialization is for insects.”
I want to create my own games. I’ve had the idea for a 2D fighting game bouncing around the back of my brain for a couple years now, and I think that with funding I could create something worthwhile. But it’s still not going to be as astounding as Street Fighter II Turbo or The King of Fighters XI. The shmup I’ve been planning with my friend Erik won’t be as legendary as R-Type or the aforementioned Ikaruga. My fantasy novels are never going to compare to Stephen R. Donaldson’s or Joe Abercrombie’s. But you have to try, don’t you?