Many people enjoy hobbies such as reading, hiking or crafting in passing, using them as a way to relieve stress and decompress after a long day. But, there are others who take it to the next level.
Senior geology major Daniel Quan has managed to turn his hobby into a substantial side-hustle. His hobby of choice: gaming.
“The first real game that I ever got into was ‘Battlefield 3,’” Quan said. “The summer it came out, I spent 200 to 300 hours playing it. At one point, I was ranked 13th in the nation … I think that’s sort of where it started.”
After finding his competitive side in first-person shooter games, Quan developed a knack for battle royale-style games, particularly the popular “Fortnite.”
“It clicked with me quick,” Quan said. “It was addicting — the sort of game I just kept coming back to.”
Following its summer 2017 release, Fortnite quickly became “the most popular game on the market,” according to Forbes, and a competitive scene began to emerge around it. Quan found himself right in the middle.
Quan, also known as QvandomFN in the “Fortnite” world, began to play in gaming competitions in which he’d often win money and real street credit in the gaming community. He’s made upward of $4,000 streaming and playing Fortnite on his PC.
“I [have] never met someone who … found as much success playing video games,” Quan’s roommate, Jacob Carter, a sophomore media arts and design major, said. “It was kind of eye-opening to see how financially rewarding playing video games from your own home can be.”
Although gaming may seem like an easy activity to be good at, there’s a huge difference between recreational and professional gaming, Henry Monk, a junior computer science major and president of JMU’s gaming club, PlayMU, said.
“A lot of people overlook how skill-intensive [esports] games can be,” Monk, said. “A lot of games require people to be incredibly fast thinkers, able to analyze situations and react immediately … [but] across the board, the most important thing is dedication.”
According to PC Magazine, esports tournaments are held in stadiums for thousands of gaming fans. The Next College Student Athlete says scholarships are offered at top universities for esports teams, and Major League Gaming says professional gaming leagues draft everyday people to play on the national level. This indicates that there’s demanding competition in the gaming world.
Like Monk, Quan believes what really sets professional gamers aside from the casual “for-fun gamers” is commitment.
“To be a competitive gamer, you have to put in the extra hours,” Quan said. “It really becomes more like a job.”
Even though he appears to be at the top of his game, Quan admits he never stops practicing.
“It’s all about working to get better,” Quan said. “I’m always going over mechanics in creative mode or reviewing my recorded games to see what I could’ve done better. Going that extra mile is really what separates public gaming from professional gaming.”
The long hours required to perfect gaming moves and become the very best at a game can often deter people from going down the route of professional gaming. With school, an off-campus job, his trusty Chihuahua side-kick, Max, to take care of and graduation just around the corner, Quan admitted that time-management has been a big and constant challenge.
“In high school, I didn’t have that much work, and it was easy to find time to play,” Quan said. “When it comes to college, though … I found that I really do have to focus more on my school work and other responsibilities first. I still try to find any extra time to put into my games … nights, weekends, study breaks — any time I can find.”
In response to the strong negative opinions on gaming being vocalized today — an article by the New York Times criticized the racist and homophobic nature of gaming language and in-game communication between players, and another article from the Telegraph cited evidence of possible brain damage that can result from too much time playing video games — Quan defends gaming and said his hobby has helped him grow and develop as a person.
“There’s the typical thought on gaming: that it’s a waste of time or that there are better things you can be doing with your life,” Quan said. “But for me and for other people too, I think, gaming is also a stress relief. It gives you a chance to relax a bit. I see it as something you can do that can add some excitement to your life.”
Monk, too, said gaming has a much wider and deeper impact on the community at JMU and in the larger world than one may think.
“The biggest thing [about gaming] is the interpersonal connection it can bring,” Monk said. “Having a community of people that all share an interest [in gaming] can help create a sense of belonging.”
Contact Alexandra Dauchess at email@example.com. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.