Ben Noble, 17, earns an income from teaching others to play Rocket League
For many parents, the sight of their children playing hours of video games while school is out thanks to the coronavirus lockdown might drive them to despair.
However, some children and adults alike are increasingly etching out a career from gaming.
One of them is but 17 year-old Ben Noble from Tunbridge Wells, Kent.
The teenager recently gave up his job as a retail worker due to coronavirus to become a full-time gaming coach.
He’s now hoping that this stint as an e-sports coach will be lucrative enough as a long-term career.
He first realized he could earn money from it after spending time with his friends and teaching them to play the vehicular football video game Rocket League.
Ben explains: ‘I was actually playing a game with a friend for quite a while and I was teaching him to play.
‘I didn’t realise I was coaching him until I saw this offered on a YouTube video. I didn’t know it was a thing.’
Working during lockdown
Ben offered his services on freelance platform Fiverr just before lockdown in March and started earning a respectable £500 a month.
His costing model is basic, but the simplicity seems to work. He offers three packages – a basic, where he charges £12.78 for an hour; a standard package, which offers two hours of coaching for £21.29 and a five-hour coaching session where he pledges to ‘work on absolutely everything he can’.
The sessions he offers consist of an initial assessment of gaming strengths and weaknesses.
He also covers all game sense areas, work on all mechanical techniques, scenarios and training drills and live coaching against high level players.
Ben who lives in Tunbridge Wells has invested in a good computer and microphone to teach other gamers
He says April has been a bumper month for coaching – earning him just under £950, but he admits this is due, in part, to people upping their gaming hours during lockdown.
Ben says: ‘It’s picked up a lot more. Last month was my best month by a landslide. I made around £950 which compared to last month was nearly double, which is crazy.’
What does it take to be an e-sports coach? Besides being a passionate gamer, it takes hours of practice and a professional level ranking to be taken seriously.
While Ben is young, it’s clear he’s passionate about Rocket League and has immersed himself in this world.
He’s already built up 3,000+ hours of Rocket League experience and is currently ranked a Grand Champion in multiple playlists where he has consistently played against high level RLCS/RLRS players.
It’s this experience that he highlights on his Fiverr CV as well as other credentials such as being part of a multiple tournament winning competitive team and the fact that he coaches other competitive organisations as well.
It’s clear this is what sets him apart. In a short period of time he has helped over 300 clients – 270 of which he obtained through Fiverr – and gained repeat business.
He puts in the hours too and the majority of his clients come from the US which means he does have to work later into the day.
He says: ‘It’s been getting crazy and I work anything between 30 and 50 hours a week.’
To attract clients as a gaming coach Ben says you have to put a lot of effort into your profile to reflect your experience.
The profession has relatively low startup costs – the only major drains being his time, equipment, electricity costs and the commission he pays to Fiverr.
He’s prepared to make the effort for his clients though – putting worksheets with screenshots together to help gamers improve.
He invested in a good computer as he finds it responds better than a console and bought a decent microphone to ensure his lessons are clearly delivered.
While there’s lots of money to be made from esport tournaments, Ben says his focus is on forging a career out of coaching gamers
The competition doesn’t appear to concern him. He explains: ‘There are a lot of high-ranking players who have the ability and knowledge to coach, but you need to have the ability to explain it better and have patience.
‘I have high quality screenshots with useful information. I also spend a lot of time putting together a full description of my services, so clients know what they are buying and what they are getting into.
‘You have to put a lot of effort in your profile. If you do a rushed job it won’t do well. I’ve had quite a few that have repeated orders as a result.’
Promoting his services on Fiverr is not cheap as it takes 20 per cent of the earnings he makes through the platform.
But he doesn’t have any plans on moving his coaching sessions away from it. He says: ‘I’m quite happy with the platform.’
Even though winnings through entering tournaments could be huge he has no ambitions to become an e-sports athlete.
E-sports has seen an explosion in popularity in the past few years with athletes able to rake in millions if they talented enough to fashion a career out of it.
But it’s coaching that Ben is hoping to earn a permanent living from. He says: ‘I would quite like to take this as far as I can and keep working on it as a career.
‘It is what I enjoy doing and if I could do this as a job then that would be amazing.’
Coaching and commentary on video games posted on services such as Youtube have also exploded in the last five years, making minor celebrities of some.
For example, Watford-based KSI started his career giving commentary on Fifa football games. He now has millions of subscribers on the platform.
The more Youtube subscribers and watches a creator gets, the more they can earn from Youtube adverts – and it has created an army of keen gamers looking to replicate this kind of success.