Finding your way in the billion-dollar gaming industry

A student tries out a virtual reality game. - Photo: Andrel Harris

Generations of gamers gathered at the annual Gamers Bay convention on Saturday, 28 Sept.

Now in its fourth year, Gamers Bay is a two-day convention that gives players, young and old, the chance to try their skills at timeless classics such as Mortal Combat and Super Mario, as well as more modern games like Minecraft, Call of Duty and Fortnite.

The event was also a chance for patrons to learn how they could get their share of the billion-dollar gaming industry. In 2018, Forbes magazines valued the gaming industry at US$138.7 billion. All indications are that the revenue will see sustained growth throughout 2019 and into 2020 and beyond.

Ethan Whittaker participates in Gamers Bay.

For the last few years, Gamers Bay has enlisted the help of people professionally known within the gaming industry. This year, Trevor Martin, who runs the TmarTn2 Youtube gaming channel, was one of several professional influencers on hand who provided insight into the industry, as well as general tips and tricks of how people could capitalise on it.

Martin says people need to rethink the gaming industry.

“The generation before ours just doesn’t understand it. It’s going to take a lot of time,” he said.

“I have a master’s degree in engineering, but I was making more money from YouTube videos. In fact, I bought my house using YouTube money.”

Low barriers to entry mean aspiring professional gamers based in Cayman shouldn’t have much trouble breaking into the market.

“All you need is smartphone with relatively good internet connection,” said Martin. “Nowadays, smartphones allow you to record the video, edit the video and even add filters.”

While the barriers to entry may be low, Martin warns that establishing oneself in the “over-saturated market” could prove to be an uphill battle.

“Can you make it if you really try? Yes. It’s overly saturated, but there are different ways that you can help to find yourself. However, it definitely is difficult,” he said.

Difficult or not, making a name for oneself in the gaming industry is a challenge that many gamers in Cayman seem to be keen on exploring.

“I think a lot of young people want to be professional gamers,” said Ethan Whittaker, 13, an aspiring police officer who prides himself on his ability and skill level in Fortnite. He says parents should support their children if they want to become professional gamers.

“If they really want to, then, yeah. If they put in the hours and they really want to, then go ahead,” said Whittaker.

James Myles, the acting director of the Youth Services Unit, says his office has partnered with the organisers of Gamers Bay for the last two years.

“It’s not only about playing the games. We want them [the students] to start thinking about how to generate wealth on the internet and finding a career path in that way,” said Myles. “We’ve also partnered with the Art Institute of Tampa to put on workshops, not only here but also in Cayman Brac.”

And while this new ‘virtual gold rush’ is tempting, Myles warns that dropping out of school to play video games isn’t an option that parents or students should entertain.

“You will need to know how to read if you are going to negotiate a potentially lucrative contract agreement,” he said. “You will need to know how to make sure you have been paid the proper amount, so dropping out of school is not something that we suggest.”

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