Tough play: China’s pro gamers

Alice Zhang is living her dream. She earns money playing computer games. But to survive in China’s booming gaming scene you have to keep winning, and attract sponsors. And, in this male-dominated industry, that’s far from easy.

China has become the center of the e-sports industry. More than a half a billion people around the world watch professionals play computer games like World of Warcraft via live stream. Most of the top teams come from China. E-sports is a multi-billion euro business. Players can earn up to two million euros per year, and transfer fees have reached levels paid for professional footballers. The industry is dominated by teenage boys and men in their early twenties. But women like Alice Zhang are also entering the professional gaming scene. When she was still in school her parents would punish her for spending more time gaming than studying. As a young adult, however, her passion for video games has landed Zhang a spot on a professional team. Holding on to it is hard work, though – as is convincing sponsors to keep supporting her. But that won’t keep Alice Zhang from pursuing her dream of earning a living from gaming. A Report by Mathias Bölinger.