Remember when we all used to play outside? When getting together with your friends meant playing tag in the yard, or creating elaborate games with action figures in the woods, or running around simply because you could? By the early 90s, those days were seemingly long gone. It was no longer considered safe to let kids run around outside alone and most pre-teens had fallen in love with Nintendo. While Atari had been around longer, it was the early Nintendo Gameboy that made everyone a video game fanatic. That love affair with video games has only increased over time, and now "competitive gaming", also known as "electronic sports", has become a major money-making venture. For the men and women who participate in electronic sports, the rewards are pretty spectacular. Not only do you win the respect of your gaming peers the world over, you also win a hefty purse. Matt Haag, a professional gamer in his early 20s, is sitting atop the competitive gaming podium at the moment, and he has the $1 million per year salary to go with that spot.
Competitive gaming has actually been around since the early 70s, and electronic sports competitions were getting write-ups in Life, Time, and Rolling Stone in the 80s. Some of the competitions even aired on the television series, "Starcade", which aired for two years. In the late 80s and early 90s, the world of competitive gaming got a shot in the arm when use of the internet began to spread. Suddenly, players could be almost anywhere, and games such as "Netrek", took advantage of the multi-player possibilities. Tournaments became big touring affairs, and new television shows began to air, including "GamesMaster" and "A*mazing". By the early 2000s, electronic sports had grown exponentially. There were 10 major tournaments in 2000. By 2010, that number had mushroomed to 260.
Over the years, the games themselves have changed, as well. Games are now designed so that they are both fun to play and to watch. They are designed with the spectator in mind. It is this current crop of games that has spurred the explosion of the number of tournaments. With so many opportunities to watch gamers play, the new gaming culture has given rise to a number of gaming mega-stars. Matt Haag is one of the most well-known.
Matt Haag, also known as "Nadeshot", was born on August 3, 1992 in Palos Hills, Illinois. Like most kids, he was introduced to video games by his family members. In his case, he began playing games with his father and brother as a child. It was initially just a fun thing to do. However, by his early teens, he'd realized he enjoyed competing at gaming, and he began participating in competitions on Gamebattles. A smart young man, he graduated from high school with excellent grades at age 16, and immediately began playing video games professionally. His specialty was "Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare". While competing for a spot on a major esports team, he worked at McDonald's and began his business degree at Moraine Valley Community College. Eventually, his gaming schedule began to take over, and he went full-time with his gaming career. He has been a member of OpTic Gaming since 2010, and currently lives in the OpTic Gaming team house in Schaumburg, Illinois. He and his teammates have a gaming training schedule that requires them to play for hours each day. They also have a special diet, a personal trainer to keep them in good shape, and a brain specialist who monitors how gaming is affecting their thought processes and mental functions. Gaming is big business and it is important for their sponsors to make sure that all the gamers are in tip-top shape.
As a competitive gamer, Matt Haag is a 2011 "Call of Duty XP" World Champion and an X Games 2014 Gold medalist. He has over a million subscribers to his YouTube channel and 9 million people have watched his practice videos, videos of him grabbing a midnight snack, and videos of chilling with the other gamers in the house. He has over 800,000 followers on Twitter, as well. He is a Red Bull esports athlete and is sponsored by such companies as Astro Gaming and Scuf Gaming. He recently signed a deal with Major League Gaming to stream his videos through their site. Matt Haag is, for all intents and purposes, the most famous "Call of Duty" player in the world. Between his sponsorship deals and his winnings from tournament play, he is about to have a $1 million year. That's pretty darn impressive for doing something that started as a hobby – and it's a huge step up from working at McDonald's. What's that old saying? Do what you love and the money will follow? Some might say that's just a dream, but Matt Haag seems to be living the dream in a big way.