I always thought the idea of a “Gaming House” was a little unsettling—the concept of an esports team not just training together and competing together but actually living together under one roof is kinda… awful? It somehow sounds less like a home and more like a prison block. I think everyone should have privacy and a break from their coworkers, even if their coworkers are wonderful people. And speaking of wonderful people, I just made my coworkers all live in a gaming prison together to turn them into esports champs. It was almost worth it.
Esports Life Tycoon (now in Early Access, from the makers of YouTubers Life, which I also played) makes you the manager of a professional esports team. You’ll move your pros into a house, manage their training, marketing, and team chemistry. You even manage the particulars of their diets and force them to all sleep in the same room like a prison warden. For my team, naturally, I based their looks on a few of my PC Gamer coworkers, which means forcing them to all sleep in one room together is extra weird. Sorry, wonderful coworkers!
Please note, I only modified the team I was given, changing their looks and names and countries of origin. In no way did I choose Steven’s attributes of ‘weak character’ and ‘prone to conflict.’ Those were just the attributes that character was already assigned. I have worked with Steven for years and can confidently say he is not prone to conflict.
With my PC Gamer team assembled, Avengers-like, I begin leading them through the Bronze League of fake esports MOBA League of Heroes . This involves confining them to the house at all times. There’s the quick passage of a day in which I get them to scout the next team they’re going to play to provide bonuses during the match, training together as a team, building ‘hype’ by making them stand in front of a camera to gain followers, and improving their team chemistry by standing in front of a whiteboard to gain a better understanding of each other.
Their energy levels slow everything down, which quickly deplete and need to be refilled by telling them to sit on a couch to watch TV, play a guitar, chill on their smart phones, and relax.
Essentially, you just move your team from room to room in the gaming house for these various activities as the days spin past, then have them compete in matches, which you can have completely simulated for you or take part in by telling them which lanes to push and making other MOBA-style decisions. I know precisely jack about MOBAs, so I usually just let the matches simulate themselves.
It’s not particularly thrilling—you’re basically just watching progress meters fill while others deplete and moving the team from room to room, and a lot of time is spent just staring at them while they sit on the couch refilling their energy. This monotony does get broken up by other events, though, such as when James complains he needs a 4000 DPI mouse, or Steven complains that Tyler is watching videos instead of training, or Joanna complains that she needs a better bed to sleep on.
It’s basically a bunch of bellyaching, and the solution as manager is to throw money at the problem and buy the babies what they want or order them a pizza in hopes it’ll make them happy or send them somewhere to improve their moods, like to a masseuse or a yoga session.
There are also a surprising number of weirdos constantly breaking into your gaming house. Sometimes they offer their services—one says he is an esports private investigator, which is surely the most dubious job title ever devised, though when I hire him for $2,000 (my management skills are also highly dubious) he does provide a buff to our scouting skill for 48 hours. Another interloper appears in the team bedroom and threatens to smash stuff up unless I pay her a thousand bucks. I pay her.
It quickly becomes apparent I will pay anybody any amount of money they ask for to do anything. I also have a steady stream of emails to respond to from fans, marketers, and other teams, whose relationships you need to cultivate if you want to trade players.
I don’t want to trade players, though! I love my PC Gamer team even though they’re a bunch of complaining crybabies who aren’t great at this fictional MOBA, and it makes me sad when Tyler develops De Quervain syndrome and I need to sign a kid from free agency to replace him for a few matches.
For a while I try to achieve a healthy balance between scouting, training, team chemistry, and hype (which increases payouts if you win), but there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to cover the bases. At the end of season one, we’ve placed sixth in the league, which isn’t great (though for a while we were placed ninth, so it could have been worse). For season two, I decided the hell with chemistry and hype. We’ll just scout other teams to the max, then spend the rest of the time training and resting.
And it seems to work! We’re eight games into season two before we sustain our first loss. With zero effort spent on hype we’re losing money each week, but the extra time training means we’re sitting at number one in the standings, and we don’t lose another match for the entire season, finishing at 9-1 before the championships. We easily win that too, and have enough money to move into a new gamer house where everyone doesn’t need to sleep in a single room together! Now, there’s two sleeping rooms, one with three beds and one with two. Luxury! We’re quickly approaching actual humane living conditions, and I couldn’t be prouder (of myself).
I’d continue playing in the Silver League but I’m honestly not having a whole lot of fun shuffling my coworkers from room to room and watching them spend half their lives sitting on a couch and playing dozens of MOBA matches that more or less feel identical. Even the comical whining of my players is losing its appeal—James complains midway through the season that he doesn’t like that we’re losing so often, which is absurd because we’re undefeated. Wake up, James!
And the micromanagement of my team now includes me dictating what they eat at their various meals, which is a step too far for me. It’s already bad enough their every waking hour is controlled by a guy who pays off blackmailers and esports detectives instead of caring about their team chemistry. Yes, I’ll make my fellow writers sleep in a room together if it means winning a fake esports trophy, but I’m not going to decide what they each have for breakfast. Eat what you want, PC Gamer writers. I’m letting you out of this gaming prison.