For a long time, nobody thought much about video games having the ability to draw the same audiences professional athletes draw to their respective sports.
After all, who would possibly want to watch a handful of World of Warcraft players fight against each other on a massive television screen? Who would sit and watch hours of League of Legends games, or matches between trigger-tempered Halo players?
According to a recent study by Deloitte, apparently somewhere to the tune of 150 million people.
It is estimated that eSports will generate global revenues of $500 million this year, up 25% from 2015's $400 million. And if that's not enough to make your eyes widen, colleges are now offering scholarships to gamers. I guess Mom and Dad were wrong after all--gaming has huge potential.
The problem, however, is that as talented as these young and competitive gamers are, a lot of them still struggle to make a consistent living. Being a professional gamer is extremely intense, and requires winning tournaments in streaks to make enough money to live on. Many of the gamers out there rely on sponsors and affiliate contracts to keep the lights on while they continue to master their craft.
This new startup, LVLUP Dojo, wants to solve this problem. And they want to do it through an online education platform.
LVLUP Dojo is an online course platform, sourcing insight from some of the gaming industry's best and brightest. These are professional gamers that have won some of the biggest tournaments in the world. YouTubers with millions upon millions of views. Twitch streamers with six figure audiences. Gamers that have effectively turned this passion of theirs into a viable career path--and now, they want to teach others how to do the same.
To learn more about LVLUP Dojo, I sat down with the Dojo team, Reza Jafery, Louie Cesario, and Joey Pennacchio to hear how they came up with the idea, and what the response has been so far.
"We all grew up playing video games--a lot," said Reza. "I think every kid that ever had a Nintendo64 or a computer wonders how they can take something so fun and turn it into a full-time gig. Some of our closest friends ended up becoming professional gamers, and we saw first-hand how they would be competing at such an intense level, and at the same time not be earning what they deserved. We wanted to solve that problem."
"The eSports community and gaming industry is still so young," Louie added. "Everyone is still trying to figure out how it's going to really work, which means there is still a lot of opportunity out there to define what those best practices are. We started realizing that gamers needed help finding meaningful ways to monetize, and at the same time we saw how many other aspiring pro gamers were out there wanting to learn how they could do it too. That intersection we saw as a great opportunity, and what sparked the idea for LVLUP Dojo."
Joey said as well, "Having spent a considerable amount of time working within the industry, I can speak to the challenge gamers face in having enough time to train and prepare for upcoming tournaments, and still be aware of the fact that money has to be made in order to keep gaming as your primary focus. It's not easy, and something that rings true to me and a lot of my closest friends. Being part of LVLUP Dojo, I see, as a step in the right direction for the industry as a whole."
To put it simply: LVLUP Dojo is an online education platform where aspiring gamers can take individual (or subscribe to all) courses taught by industry elites. These courses cover everything from mental preparation before a big tournament, to creating valuable content on YouTube and social media, to learning how to build a personal brand in gaming and become a thought leader.
What makes LVLUP Dojo unique is that it actually splits a large percentage of the profits with each of the gamers teaching their respective courses. This goes back to their desire to help give talented gamers an opportunity to share their expertise and create a reliable income stream for themselves through the sale of their courses.
If nothing else, LVLUP Dojo's appearance on the scene shows us that eSports and professional gaming as a career is not a fad. It is a rapidly growing industry and one that has only just begun.