Let’s face it, at some point in our lives we’ve all wondered what it would be like to play video games for a living, but what’s it really like to be a professional gamer?
VidThru.com sits down with Anette Skarderud, better know by her call sign, Cazzidy, a core member of Team Counter-Strike, to get the real scoop. Skarderud is currently 26 years old and has been at this for some time, so we’ve got word direct from the source on what the life of a tier one gamer is really like.
VidThru.com: At what age did you start playing video games? When did you go pro?
Anette Skarderud: I started playing video games at a very young age, I played Nintendo, Sega, Playstation 2 and we got an Amiga 2000 PC when I was 10 years old,
I think. There I was just playing Tetris, a helicopter shooting game and just did some stuff in ‘paint’! My brother was really good with computers so he was the one getting all these things and I was just that annoying little sister who wanted to do everything that he did. I’d say, I first turned professional in 2005/2006, when I joined up with Les Seules.
Q: How did you get your start in the business of playing video games for a living?
Skarderud: Well, believe it or not I once was a very active girl. I was captain on the football team, played handball, did figure skating. I actually lived in Milano, Italy for 1 year because I was doing a figure skating show and travelled around. After I got back that year my school didn’t start back again for like 6 months, so I had nothing to do. That’s when I discovered Counter-Strike. Some friends invited me to play with them and it snowballed from there.
The reason why I wanted to go pro was because I discovered the competitions. One of my closest girlfriends actually played on the Counter-Strike team already and was on Norway’s national team. So, one day I decided I wanted to become the best, wanted to be known for being really good, and I wanted to compete with those girls. I gave it everything that I had and I played with the right people. Because of that I became good at the game within a short time. I was lucky that someone acknowledged me and gave me the big chance to join one of the best female teams in the world.
Q: What advice would you give a young female gamers thinking about playing video games for a living?
Skarderud: I hope we will see more girls going pro in all games, you have to be really really good, though, and have something special to make it as a girl. And they need to realize that you need to basically live and breath the game you want to play. There sure comes a lot more with being a pro gamer than just casually playing.
The first step is of course to fight to become the best, you gotta know what you want, and you have to know that you will have to give up a lot of things in your life to become number one.
It takes just as much of your time as any physical sport would. You have to do things for your sponsors, you have to show results, and you always have to be presentable.
I don’t really know what kind of advice I would give, there isn’t that much money in female gaming, at least not so much that you can make a living, though maybe in Starcraft and World of Warcraft…if you’re really good.
Q: What’s the social scene like on the professional tour? Are the players all business and no fun or is love and marriage a possibility on the tour? Do you think a girl should concentrate on playing, and forget the social scene?
Skarderud: We always have a lot of fun at tournaments, but normally the first days you spend with your teammates, so we don’t see other people much. When we do socialize we are all catching up, going out to eat together, if there’s time, or we just hang out. We of course say hello to the other teams and players but normally you don’t have time to be social until you are either out of the tournament or you have a day off between play days.
On the last day of the tournaments there is a gamer’s party. Most female gamers have a gamer boyfriend – or would like to have one. So you always see some new people getting together. Then there’s always some people who are already a couple, and you see them traveling together to support each other at each others events.
Personally, since I started playing, all my boyfriends have been gamers. I think its really hard for a gamer girl to have a non-gamer boyfriend because it takes up so much of your spare time. I think it would be really hard for any other guy to accept the life that we are living.
Anyway, the first days we always concentrate on playing, the last day we meet with all the other gamers and socialize.
Q: Take our readers through your typical day on the professional video gaming tour?
Skarderud: The last 2 years I have been working full time and playing on the side, since I can’t earn enough money to make a living off gaming alone. So I get up 06:30AM in the morning, I go to work, and get home around 4:30PM. Normally, if I’m gonna make it through the gaming day, I have to sleep for like 30-60min before practice time and I have to make some food that I can eat in front of my computer.
Since I have been the IGL Tactical leader for all the teams I’ve played for, I’ve had to devote extra time to think about what we are going to do, what you need to practice, and maybe watch some demos and think of some new strategies. We normally start practice at 7PM and play until around 11PM. Then I go to bed.
Before I started working full time, my day was like much more laid back. I tried to get up around 11AM everyday, this was back in the days I used to play like 1 hour FFA and 1 hour aim map (tried to make myself do that when I woke up), then I would eat something and maybe go to the gym. Once I got back, I would play some mixes until practice started around 7PM. And after practice was over at 11PM, I would play a little more and just be ‘social’ on the Internet. Crazy J!
Q: How has becoming a professional video gamer affected your private, family life? How has your family, friends and other people in your life responded to your career as a professional video gamer? What are some of the changes this has meant in your relationships, if any?
Skarderud: My family never wanted to accept that I was playing. They wanted me to quit and focus on the normal life; school, work and so on. I also feel like I lost a lot of friends, but not the very close ones. To put it another way, your social network doesn’t increase. But you do get to know new people in less conventional ways. Like I’ve made a lot of friends over the Internet, people I’ve played with and people that I’ve met now and then at competitions or at other LAN events.
I guess I don’t regret anything, but I think if I had the choice now I would have chosen something else for me – like a career. I was just so curious! Counter-Strike and female gaming was very new when I started, and I wanted to see how far it could take me.
Q: Where do you see yourself in a few years? Will you still be playing video games professionally or do you think you’ll decide to do something else with your life? What’s your plan for the future?
Skarderud: Right now I have actually quit professional gaming. I was supposed to go for another year, but since I now have a new job in Norway, I’m gonna move to Oslo at the end of the month. I’ve lived in Copenhagen, Denmark for the last 3 years, playing for Counter-Strike and working. I’m 26 years old now, so for me I guess its time for a new chapter in my life. My plan for the future is to create a so-called normal life. I want to travel a lot, see new places and just enjoy living.
VidThru.com: Well, thank you, Anette, for sharing will all of us here at VidThru. I’m sure the gaming world will miss you, but we wish you the best of luck as you transition back into a ‘normal’ life.
If you’d like to get the latest on Cazzidy’s and Team Counter-Strike’s conquests, or if you just want to learn more about professional gaming in general, head on over to the Female Counter-Strike Team page, Cazzidy’s page or visit Fnatic.com.