"I've lost a tournament because I didn't see a dot for a few seconds. Like, I lost thousands of dollars because I didn't see a single red dot. It's a big deal."- StarCraft II champ Scarlett, aka Sasha Holstyn, speaks about life as a pro eSports competitor in a recent interview with The New Yorker. Industry watchers know it's been a good year for games as eSports: the U.S. government recognized eSports athletes professionals, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 each gained competition-grade eSports platforms, and the Game Developers Conference just debuted a new eSports Summit dedicated to investigating the intricacies of developing games to facilitate high-level competitive play. If you're interested in better understanding what it's like to play such games professionally and compete in tournaments with prize pools that occasionally outstrip the U.S. Open, it's worth reading The New Yorker's excellent eSports profile piece. The story revolves around StarCraft II pro player Scarlett (pictured above), also known as Sasha Holstyn, a 20-year-old woman who has earned international acclaim (and significant amounts of money) playing the game over the past few years. It's worth reading for the perspective it offers into both how a top-tier eSports player thinks ("We're at the point where we don't, like, mis-click on the keyboard," she says while explaining one strategic decision) and feels ("No one else is speaking English, unless they're speaking to me, pretty much; it's just kind of a little bit lonely," she says while backstage at a competition in South Korea). While Scarlett is the star of the piece, the author also does an admirable job of shining light on what it's like to spend years of your life playing games at the highest levels of skill. "Imagine playing a concerto on a piano, and if you miss one note the entire orchestra stops playing and you're kicked off and you lose your job," notes Starcraft II commentator Sean "Day" Plott. "That's what this is like." The lengthy profile piece is worth reading in full over on the The New Yorker website.
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Here's what life is like as a top StarCraft II pro player
The New Yorker recently published an excellent feature about pro Starcraft II player Scarlett that offers some interesting insights for developers looking to better understand the rise of eSports.