Examining The Unstable Work Culture In The Esports Industry
Poor management and lack of job security are things not limited to game developers as far as the game industry is concerned. For several years now, I have heard from sources about the disorganization, lack of pay and grueling hours esports staff, broadcasters and even players are subjected to. Covering esports often I have seen it first hand.
On the production end, I have heard countless stories of esports event organizers and organizations under paying and over working. From the information I have gathered, it is next to impossible to make a sustainable income in the current climate of esports. While the industry is still trying to find its feet, passionate employees are paying the price. I have heard of production staff coming out of pocket for expenses including food and travel when they are working an event. Writers and photographers often going unpaid.
The whole thing is running on the burnt out fumes of abused passion.
These issues are not just effecting the production staff for esports events, but also the professional players. I recently covered IEM Chicago and during a press conference after their big win, Team Liquid confessed “there are too many events.” They expressed how their travel schedule is “insane.” They are not wrong. Liquid played beautifully and had every reason to be elated and yet they looked exhausted. It’s no wonder so many teams aren’t interested in interviews or press conferences, they are worn out. Keep in mind, most professional game players are pretty young, so if they’re getting worn out, what does that say? There’s also a lack of security for players as rosters can switch without warning leaving people who have given up a lot to be on a team with nothing.
When it comes to staffing, I think esports as a whole has been very lucky in that it has managed to attract real talent. However there is also a plague of nepotistic hiring that has had serious effects across the board. Logistics for esports shows is astronomically difficult. Players, equipment, brackets, streams; to run all of that smoothly requires more than a shoestring budget and inexperienced organizers. Lack of organization has people being called up to run events mere days in advance. Players often thrown into chaos trying to find out when and where they are playing. I think it’s time to ask where all the money is going.
Esports is exiting its infancy and yet I don’t feel like we’re any closer to finding a standardized format that is sustainable in terms of profitability. There are several factors contributing to this stagnation, yet there are people throwing money at esports in hopes of cashing in on the “gold rush.” Investors need to understand there is a lot of structure and standards that need to be set. ROI is not going to happen until esports is more accessible and streamlined. These things won’t happen overnight and you cannot spend your way out of these issues, especially if the money isn’t going to the right places.
The things production and players do are important and vital for the survival of esports. Does it really have to be said that these people need proper pay and good management?