Origin Stories is GameSpot's recurring eSports feature profiling some of the hottest professional players from around the world in different tournaments and leagues.
Geoff "InControl" Robinson -- StarCraft
Robinson, 27, resides in Phoenix, Arizona. He has been playing StarCraft, StarCraft: Brood War, and StarCraft II for 14 years, but only joined the professional scene as a Protoss player four years ago. Robinson is now sponsored player and team caption of Evil Geniuses.
In the tournament scene, Robinson has won the USA WCG National Championship as well as several invitationals, and now earns enough through eSports to do it full-time. He is a regular competitor at MLG, and played in the first season of the NASL, where he was also featured as a caster.
Robinson was also contestant in WCG Ultimate Gamer Season 1, finishing in 9th place, and was one of the founding members of the professional StarCraft coaching website, Gosu Coaching, with his fellow Evil Geniuses teammates. He has also worked as an occasional caster at various tournaments and events.
GameSpot caught up with Robinson to ask him what the life of a professional eSports player entails.
What is a typical day for you when you're training for a tournament? How many hours a day do you spend practicing?
A typical day for me goes something like this: I wake up, do a gameplay lesson from 9am to 10am, have breakfast and then start training. This usually consists of two separate five-hour cycles of just playing. So a full day of training will be anywhere between 10 to 12 hours of practice.
What about when you're not competing? Do you still train?
For me, training is a five to seven-day affair that continues all the time. There is always a tournament or event happening, so you need to remain sharp and that means continuously training.
Looking back, what would you list as some of the sacrifices you have had to make to become a professional gamer? Have you ever had to give up more 'normal' things in order to pursue this as a career?
Well, I play video games for a living. Sacrifices are normal, sure, but they hardly factor in.
How hard is it to be an eSports player? Is it rewarding? Most people think of eSports as kind of a dream job: do they underestimate how much effort, time and sacrifice goes into it?
Of course there is a tonne of work and of course it has its moments of stress just like any other job. The most difficult part for me is managing how accessible I am through gaming. People know every aspect of my life and hear my every opinion and thought. This can be difficult--of course, the alternative is nobody knows me or cares. So yes, I will take the fame!
Do you think there's still a stigma attached to professional gaming? Is it hard for the general public to take it seriously as a profession and competitive sport?
Yes, the stigma is very real. Most people in the mainstream think professional gamers are just overweight, lazy slobs who make very little money and are stagnating their lives. Little is known about how much we travel, socialize and experience things that many other people would never get the chance to experience. Not only that but because of how big professional gaming has become, it's important that we stay in shape and develop strong charismatic skills for broadcasting or doing media work.
What's the most rewarding part of being a professional gamer?
Being your own boss! I pick my hours, I can take vacation and each day offers new opportunities. I can always do different things and create new revenue streams in the professional gaming space. It's very exciting and constantly evolving.
Does playing for a living in any way impact on your enjoyment playing other types of games? Can you ever play another game without feeling competitive?
I will always be a gamer. While StarCraft is how I earn a living and it is what I do for work, I still very much so enjoy it. That said, when I want to unwind and chill out for a bit I have been known to play some Call of Duty or Prototype, or other games that are a bit less sophisticated and involve less brainpower than a StarCraft game would for me.