Johnathan Wendel (AKA “Fatal1ty”) expects to make about $200,000 this year. He’s a professional gamer:
If you deign to think of video games as simply a childish pastime, consider this professional game player. He collects a six-figure salary, has his own brand of gaming merchandise and travels the world to compete Ã¢â?¬â?? regarded by those in the know as one of the most gifted players of his kind. “It’s fun to play games for a living,” says Wendel. “Getting up every day is very easy.” If professional video gamers have a knight-errant, Fatal1ty is he. As gaming leagues have developed and small fortunes are made in what has become a multibillion-dollar business, this lanky blond has become the face of what fans refuse to classify as anything other than a sport. “I’m doing something no one else has ever done before,” Wendel said during a break from practice for the Cyberathlete Professional League World Tour Grand Finals that begin Sunday in New York, where first place would win him a $150,000 check. “I’m kind of a pioneer.” … Tens of thousands turn out each year at tournaments around the world (South Korea is a particular mecca with its own stable of pros) as both serious gamers and doting fans. Major corporations including Intel Corp., Samsung Electronics Co. and the maker of Tylenol are becoming sponsors. And video game enthusiasts are no longer seen as socially inept geeks. … Wendel, who is for now at least forgoing college, has become the leader in titles and prize money. And he has licensed his Fatal1ty name Ã¢â?¬â?? inspired by the word that flashes on the screen with a kill in the game Mortal Kombat, one of his early favorites Ã¢â?¬â?? to companies for which he helps develop products geared at gamers, from mouse pads to motherboards.
Today’s jobseeker has more choices than ever, which means that we are more likely to get paid to do something we enjoy. Americans hold millions of jobs that did not exist a century ago. For example, our nation is home to 758,000 software engineers, 299,000 fitness workers and 128,000 aircraft mechanics. And many of the old-style jobsÃ¢â?¬â??far from being outsourced into oblivionÃ¢â?¬â??are more plentiful than ever. Our nation has 6.5 million teachers, 718,000 hairdressers, 281,000 chefs and 112,000 biologists. The chance for work to aid rather than hinder our quest for fulfillment is a truly historic development. How many miners stuck deep within the earth would rather have been video editors, web designers or car customizers?
Ted Balaker is an award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and founding partner of Korchula Productions, a film and new media production company devoted to making important ideas entertaining.