By Zoi Galarraga
With almost 3 billion gamers worldwide and close to $200 billion in revenue, the video game industry has taken the world by storm. While kids may still dream of growing up to be a veterinarian or actor, the dream of being a professional gamer has never been more present.
The wealthiest pro gamer, a Twitch streamer known as “Ninja,” is estimated to earn $17 million annually—a staggering $2 million more than the entire development staff that it takes to create a game. With such lucrative prospects, it’s no wonder kids often devote hours to phone, PC, and console games.
According to Reuters, China has the world’s largest esports market, but a new Chinese law may have an impact on that market—and how much Chinese children may be able to make from professional gaming as they grow into adulthood.
In an effort to combat the perceived negative impact of gaming on children, China is only allowing minors to play 3 hours of video games per week, during specific time slots on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Considering that esports players generally reach peak performance in their early 20s, this law may have a serious impact on young gamers’ ability to go pro.
Video Game Industry Income—from Development to Pro Gaming
The average hourly wage for a game development job is $34.47, just under $72,000 per year. One of the most tedious jobs in the industry, Game QA Tester, only earns an average of $42,186 each year—a significantly small salary for a multi-billion dollar industry.
Given this information, it’s no surprise that many children who love gaming want to capitalize on their favorite hobby and are enticed by the pro gamer salary rather than the development side of the industry. In a recent report, GetCenturyLink.com found that the 10 highest paid professional gamers make anywhere from $6–17 million each year.
So just how much do pro gamers make? While it’s not guaranteed that a pro gamer will skyrocket to the top 10 earners in the industry, the average salary of a video game player is $48,870 per year, higher than a QA Tester—and many pro gamers earn up to $126,000 annually.
What the Situation in China Means for Young Professional Gamers
For children in China who have dreams of becoming professional gamers, the new law may put those dreams on pause. While it’s admirable that the Chinese government wants to improve the mental health of their youth, there is the potential that too strict an hourly limit could stunt the growth of hopeful professional gamers.
To an outsider, it may seem like professional gaming is simple, but it requires a lot of skill, practice, and time to reach a professional level. With the new Chinese law’s particular level of strictness, there is the potential that children will miss out on connection, stress relief, and a fruitful career in esports. While we hope that improved mental health outcomes will be the true benefit of this regulation, not a hit to the Chinese esport phenomenon, only time will tell.
Video Games and Mental Health
China’s new law aims to combat video game addiction in Chinese youth. According to Concordia University, while there certainly are downsides to gaming for long periods of time, like the potential for addiction and reduced concentration, video games aren’t entirely malicious in their own right. From teaching motor skills to allowing players to connect with friends online, especially during isolation periods during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are plenty of upsides, too.
When evaluating the mental health impact video games have on young people, it’s important to look at the gamer’s whole lifestyle, not just focus on pure hours spent in one week.
About Zoi Galarraga
Zoi Galarraga is a media relations specialist at GetCenturyLink.
She has a background in radio and print journalism and enjoys writing articles that will educate and entertain readers.
In her free time, she enjoys hiking, traveling and spending time with friends and family.