ALAMEDA (KPIX 5) – Geoff Robinson is a veteran of the world of StarCraft. The 29-year-old can spend up to 12 hours a day scouting the enemy. Back on Earth, he’s getting paid for this.
“I feel like a sideshow freak at family gatherings because they’re like ‘Look what Geoff does, tell them Geoff, tell them what you do.’ And I go ‘I play video games for a living,’” Robinson told KPIX 5.READ MORE: COVID Reopening: San Mateo County Returns to Yellow Tier; Bars To Resume Indoor Service
Geoff turned pro when he was 23. He made a $160,000 in his best year, including sponsorship and prize money from competitions.
“The very top echelon guys are making a million dollars,” Robinson said.
And many of them are literally sleeping, eating and playing the game under one roof. Welcome to the Evil Geniuses training house in Alameda.
“It’s basically just a brain trust of great players,” Robinson said.
Some of the biggest differences between people who play for fun and total beginners, and the pro gamers are speed and being able to know what your opponent’s next move is at all times.
“It’s a legitimate business,” and a legitimate sport according to Antonio Javier of the GoodGame Agency, an e-sports startup in San Francisco that recruits top players.READ MORE: Major League Baseball Greenlights Oakland A's To Consider Relocating
His team travels around the world almost weekly, often to play for multi-million dollar jackpots in tournaments that sell out stadiums. And huge audiences tune in online through streaming sites like Twitch and YouTube. In fact, last year’s League of Legends championship had more total viewers than the NBA finals.
“The mainstream media portrayal of e-sports is like basement dwellers, people just sitting in their rooms,” said pro gamer Conan ‘Suppy’ Liu.
The modern player is social. On a Friday night, we hung out with the e-sports club at UC Berkeley.
Conan Liu is one of the biggest stars in the industry. He took a year off school last year to play StarCraft II professionally.
“I didn’t do as well as I was expecting,” Liu said.
He’s back to studying to be a doctor and playing competitively on the side.
Still, Liu given rise to the e-sports craze.MORE NEWS: Mayor London Breed Calls For Street Wellness Response Team To Help San Francisco's Homeless
“It’s something that’s growing super fast, a few years ago you would have been kidding somebody.” Liu said. “It could be like the next football in ten years.”