Let the games begin.
Yesterday’s NBA announcement that a few lucky video gamers will be paid $32,000 to play virtual games for the association’s NBA2K League had Madison Square Garden buzzing with draft picks, aged 18 to 33, who were taking photos with NBA officials and were ecstatic about being chosen to start their careers doing what they love most: playing video games.
Chaka Brown, one of the first round picks, will quit his job as an Uber driver and head to Utah to play for Utah Jazz, one of 17 teams in the league. On a CBS news broadcast last night, Brown said that although his Mom wasn’t thrilled about how many hours he would spend playing the game, she has now come around. “She understands how real this is, how big this is, and she’s excited for me,” he said.
“We are thrilled to have Chaka join Jazz Gaming as our first pick,” Jazz Gaming director of e-sports Josh Barney said in a statement. “He was our number one rated point guard in this draft. Shaka is very charismatic and a team-centric player, who we feel will be a great fit in our organization.”
Michael McNair, an expert on virtual and augmented reality who was featured in the December 2017 tech issue of The Network Journal and currently runs Unicorn AR, told TNJ.com that this is just the beginning. “The NBA sees the high value in competitive video gaming and is willing to invest entertainment and marketing dollars in this space. It’s a way to incentivize and engage with the fan base…the people who watch basketball on television and the people who spend money to see a basketball game,” he shares.
Further, McNair says that the kids who play basketball on Twitch, a popular video gaming platform, can make $500,000 playing. “Twitch has millions of viewers all over the world. I wouldn’t be surprised if the NBA creates its own platform on the NBA site for its virtual gaming league,” he notes.
“Gaming is no longer just your typical ‘playing games for fun.’ You can really make a life and career out of this,” Brown said on the CBS broadcast.
Dayvon Curry, the first round pick for the New York Knicks, agreed. He traveled here from Texas to play for the team. Said Curry, “This is my dream city and I’m just happy to be here.”
It seems that their tech skills have paid off.