If you are thinking about becoming a full-time video game player and stay in South Africa, you are probably going to have to keep staying with your parents.
Ruan van Wyk, 24, is from Port Elizabeth and studied engineering, but his dream is to become an international Counter-Strike player. "My parents were never supportive of the fact that I played games until I showed them two years ago how big [the rAge expo] is‚," he said.
For five days a week from 6-11pm, he becomes "Elusive"‚ his alias in the Bravado Gaming team. They participated in the finals of the ESL African Championship at the rAge gaming‚ technology and geek culture expo in Johannesburg this past weekend. They lost in the finals against Energy eSports from South Africa‚ but earned about R157‚000 ($11‚441) in prize money. Energy eSports won about R314‚000 ($22‚833).
Van Wyk said top international players earn about $25‚000 per month and teams live together under one roof with the necessary game and physical training. Van Wyk believes that if you want to draw people into the gaming industry, you have to "talk numbers".
The global video gaming industry is worth about R1.3-trillion. According to a report by Serious About Games (SAG), South Africa's game development industry increased its revenue from R29.7-million in 2014 to R100-million in 2016 on the back of 103 commercial releases that year.
"The older generation‚ they feel like we are all wasting our time. You are sitting in front of the computer. You cannot possibly make money off of it‚" Van Wyk said.
The 15th rAge expo was expected to draw about 38‚000 people this past weekend to the Ticketpro Dome. The expo has an annual growth in attendance of 8-12%. Most attendees are between 18 and 36 years old and split 60/40 between male and female.