Retiring from any career can be a very abrupt and sometimes painful transition. Fortunately, the video game community may have a model for a better way to handle retirement.
The career span of an video game athlete is extremely short, sometimes leaving young ex-pros with little options. In recent years this has changed, with video streaming offering a great option for retired pro-gamers through services like Twitch.tv, where their fans can support them by donating or subscribing to watch them play.
Recently Dryus, a star player on team TSM in the game League of Legends emotionally announced his retirement before his fans (see video above). With almost 900k followers on Twitch and nearly 500k on Twitter, Dyrus is as popular as many traditional athletes.
What’s remarkable about Dyrus is the fact that at 23 years old he is not just a veteran of the sport, he is the old man on the team. He is the only League player to have played at every League world championship and to make it to the finals every year in the North America series since the e-sport began 5 years ago. He is the legend that the kids look up to. It is an extremely short career. This is partially because of the brutal lifestyle. Playing video games is a fun pastime for most of us, but it is hard work for the pros. The top players live with their teams in gaming houses, where they train pretty much every hour they are awake. When they aren’t playing the game itself (often for 10+ hours daily), they are reviewing strategies with coaches, studying other players, and everything else that pro athletes do. Although League is an online game, the top teams travel to compete at various events throughout the year. Burn out is inevitable.
“After 5 seasons of playing competitive I think it’s time to give someone else the chance to play with such amazing teammates. I am burnt out and it would be unfair to keep going without the same level of motivation. I will still be under TSM and I will support them from behind the scenes. Thank you all for everything I look forward to seeing the new roster soon!”
-Marcus ‘Dyrus’ Hill
But even if a player loves the crazy lifestyle, their career is limited. A traditional athlete can’t play at a top level forever, and gamers start to lose their skills early. The pro gamers are playing at such a high level, that even the slight loss of hand speed in your early to mid 20s can make you a detriment to your team. Don’t get me wrong, Dyrus will be one of the best in the world for years, but it is a factor.
Services like Twitch.tv offer a big win for players like Dyrus and his fans. Dyrus and other pro gamers (active and retired) can be watched by tens of thousands of their fans as they play. While watching someone else play a game may seem strange, you have to understand how good these guys are. If you like to play basketball, would you watch a stream of LeBron playing a neighborhood pickup game? Of course you would, and so would tens of thousands of his fans. This is the same thing. What makes it even better is that the streamers will superimpose a pip of their own webcam video over the game and offer commentary on their own play, live during the course of the game (see above). The best streamers will also interact with their fans, responding to questions and comments in the live chat. As a casual League player, I’ve watched Dyrus stream on Twitch and it is awesome. He is pulling off plays that boggle the mind while his fans go insane in the chat, and explaining what he is doing the entire time.
This career path not only gives retired gamers like Dyrus a nice revenue stream, it makes the transition easier on their fans, who often struggle with the idea of someone so good just quitting entirely. We want Dyrus to keep playing as long as he is having fun, and he is fun to watch. If it can’t be in his old role on TSM, at least we still have him on Twitch.
So how does this all apply to the business world and the usual topics of this website? Well, I think this offers a great model for the big business. We can all use video as a way to ease into retirement. Often when people retire, they are looking to slow down, but they are still interested and still very valuable. What if they could call in on video once or twice a week to mentor new employees? Just like Dyrus, they may not be full time pros anymore, but they still want to be in the game and they still have a lot to offer. Video could be a great way to reduce the abruptness of retirement, both from the perspective the retiree, and of the team that is losing a long time member. Don’t dismiss this idea just because it came from a bunch of young gamers. This could be the new way to retire.