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Why pro video gamers are getting hot
It’s a mystery: Established media outlets ignore pro video gamers with huge online followings like Nadeshot.
It’s a rare day when you read about professional video gamers in the tabloid press. But on Reddit, which receives more than a billion page views a month, they’re front-page material.
A few months ago, we wrote about how Starcraft world champion Yang Chia Cheng sent Reddit head over heels with a single hello. Today, pro gamer Nadeshot made the front page with an “ask me anything” group interview, where Reddit users pose questions and get answers directly from the source.
It’s not just high-tech games that gain an audience either. Last month, Magic: The Gathering card game champ Jon Finkel got similar results.
Documentarian Mary Ratliff, who is producing a film about professional gamers, said this isn’t at all surprising. For redditors who spend more time online than watching TV, mainstream outlets do not dictate whom they deem famous.
“[Redditors] aren’t going to traditional media like cable television or print journalism for their information,” she said.
Ratliff said that Reddit is such a big part of gamers’ interaction with fans that it makes up a portion of her documentary. One of her professional-gamer subjects, iNcontroL, is especially active on Reddit.
“When somebody is mad at Geoff ‘iNcontroL’ Robinson for his performance at MLG Raleigh, they’re not just ranting about it at a bar and going home like somebody who is mad at the Redskins for losing,” she said.
“They post to Reddit, they tweet at him, and he responds. He says he’s not happy with his performance, and talks about what he’s doing to get better.”
The documentarian said that one of the hallmarks of professional gaming is fan participation, something Reddit exemplifies.
“Fans get to participate in the culture of professional gaming, not just watch,” she said. “I don’t think that it’s at all surprising that the players who are the most active online with forums like Reddit and Twitter are the ones that get the most attention and front page articles.”
Photo via Nadeshot
Lauren Rae Orsini is a web culture reporter who specializes in anime and the business of fandom. Her work has been published by Forbes and Business Insider.