Gamers have never really gotten a fair shake at things in the press, but that might start to change now that Bugha has brought home $3 million from winning the solo Fortnite World Cup. For all those times that someone said you can’t make a living off of video games or that gaming will lead nowhere, this has to be a hard reality to digest. But is it actually going to change anything for gamers? Will misconceptions about us stop? Or is this just something that is going to benefit eSports, dominate headlines for a little while, then fade away, only for the old stereotypes about gaming and gamers to return?
It does seem like this is a big moment for gaming and eSports. That’s because people take money – especially a lot of money – very seriously. Sad but true and it could mean a whole new future for video gaming. Remember how all of the casuals came in on the Nintendo Wii wave and the smartphone gaming trend that followed after that? We could see all sorts of different people joining the gaming community in the hopes of replicating Bugha’s success – even on a small level.
If that happens, things are not only going to change but old misconceptions about gaming are going to have to change as well. Heck, even Bugha himself admitted that his mother “threw away” his Xbox. Now he’s a millionaire. Imagine the life he’d be leading now if he had listened to his mother, likely influenced by the mainstream idea that gamers are not good for anything, and not pursued his Fortnite career? He wouldn’t be a millionaire. Of all the possible scenarios we can imagine, this is the one salient fact that ties them all together.
And all of this is great for eSports because it is a new entertainment niche that thrives off of dedicated players and audiences. Removing the stigma, even if you have to use the alcohol rub of millions of dollars in potential prize money, from professional gaming should lead to a whole new world for both the industry and eSports.
One thing that companies can’t ignore moving forward is how much of a field day in terms of free marketing and press the Fortnite World Cup has been for both the namesake game and Epic Games, the parent company. You can expect purses at eSports events to get larger and, just like the lottery does, continue to attract attention from a press that more often tries to downplay gaming and gamer culture.
So, yes, Bugha’s win is a huge deal for all of us not only because of how much he won but because of his age. To be 16 years old and win that kind of prize means that he won’t face many of the challenges teenagers face should he manage his money well. That kind of financial security and the implication that “anyone can do it” because of his youth will be the two things that forever make this a historic moment in eSports and video games. Now everyone will feel like they can do it or that they should give it a shot and the implications are momentous.