Will “BigTymeR” Johnson and Hector “H3CZ” Rodriguez dropped by CBS Sports Radio on Wednesday to discuss the world of professional video gaming. Johnson is a 13-time Call of Duty champion, while Rodriguez owns OpTic Gaming.
Think Bill Russell and Dana White. Sort of.
Johnson is one of the best gamers in the world. In 2011, Johnson, then 18, won $100,000 in a Call of Duty tournament in Los Angeles.
“It’s just like anything else,” Johnson said on Tiki and Tierney. “It’s got to become second nature. You have to do it so much that it becomes just a part of who you are. I played first-person shooters before Call of Duty was ever released, to the time I was 9, 10 years old until I was 23, 24. So it becomes a part of who you are and you get really good at it after awhile.”
Rodriguez, meanwhile, owns OpTic, which, in the video game world, is sort of a combination of the UFC and NBA free agency.
“I just knew that entertainment was always going to be one of those things where you can make a living,” Rodriguez said. “The second that YouTube started becoming a popular thing, we started posting videos and tutorials on how to become better at the game. Immediately, Google started monetizing that. (I realized) I want to play video games and talk to hundreds of thousands of people. We gained this massive popularity and I decided I’m going to go back to our roots. I went out and acquired a team or asked them to join our team. It was a big opportunity not only to make money off of the tournaments, but you can make money on the video content that you create. So they no longer had to rely on winning tournaments to make a living. Now they had something steady.”
Rodriguez made sure that none of the gamers were taken advantage of.
“Everybody that was playing video games at that professional level was really young, so they really didn’t have that business acumen that I believed I had at that time,” he said. “So I took a big-brother approach to make sure that the kids weren’t going to be taken advantage of, and little by little, I learned as much from them as they learned from me, and we were able to build OpTic into this massive franchise.”
Johnson, as well as other OpTic members, have worked to combat the stereotype that gamers are geeks who play video games in their parents’ basement.
“We’re normal kids who used to play traditional sports in high school,” Johnson said. “Maybe we had injuries that happened that sort of ended those playing careers and we’re very competitive people and we sort of just found Call of Duty, first-person shooters, video games in general to channel that energy and that competitiveness. We’re normal kids for the most part.”
While some people believe it’s dangerous for children – or adults – to play shooting games obsessively, Johnson does not.
“I don’t think it’s dangerous,” he said. “A lot of times, even with pro players, parents will force you to stay ahead of your studies. They’ll force you to go outside and play traditional sports and then you come and you do the video games as a second thing. If you show some promise with it, then you can kind of turn it into a career.”