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How to Pay for College Through Video Games

11:05 AM February 11, 2016

She starts her computer, ready to play,  still wearing her school uniform. Her favorite game is League of Legends. As she plays, she does something the “normal gamer” wouldn’t do. She’s live-streaming, the act of broadcasting one’s gameplay to the internet. To an audience of some 50 viewers, comprised of online and real-life friends alike on the popular streaming website Twitch.tv, she wears a smile and her signature “meow” expression. Suzzysaur is online.

Suzzane. Photo taken from her Facebook page, shot by Jumpshot.

Suzzane. Photo taken from her Facebook page, shot by Jumpshot.

Suzzane Irasga is a BS Computer Engineering student at the Institute of Creative Computer Technology. Last year, she fell into debt with regards to her tuition.

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She tried everything, from tutoring other students to sewing. What meager money she made was only enough to cover her allowance. It wasn’t enough.

With her mother developing Hepatitis B and her father working to support her and her three siblings, Suzzane decided that it was time for her to contribute. She wanted to earn money from gaming and lift the burden of funding her education from her parents.

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“Why not tournaments?” some fans of her may ask. After all, with eSports tournaments paying out in the millions and her being part of competitive team herself, why not try that? She couldn’t. “Not playing tournaments because the progression towards earning money is long and with my team (Team Seraphynx), we can’t win against super good players because we have a lack of practice and different commitments,” she answered.

In eSports, money is greatly skewed towards the top . If a player or their team isn’t good enough to win tournaments or be sponsored, it is essentially a penniless occupation, unlike sports such as boxing, where even losses earn you money. What’s more, in order to even get into tournaments, players have to go through week-long qualifiers just to have a shot at the prize. Only players such as Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok have the capacity to reach the six-figure dollar incomes heavily touted by the media.

Turning to streaming

“I’ve always wanted to stream,” Suzzysaur told eSports Inquirer. As a gamer and competitive player, she was enamored by the videogame streams of her idols.

For the uninitiated, Twitch.tv is essentially the online gaming community TV hub. Live video channels or “streams” featuring players enjoying their games live are broadcasted for viewers to come watch.

Established in 2011, the site now serves the entertainment demands of millions of users across the globe. Once a user is watching a stream, one can interact with the streamer as well as subscribe to their content for a monthly fee or even donate directly.

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The directory page of Twitch.tv. Channels are divided here by what game they are playing currently.

Amateur and professional players alike broadcast their game play over the internet for their fans and eSports enthusiasts to watch. On Twitch.tv, League of Legends regularly commands anywhere between 80,000 to a 100,000 viewers watching the game being played on any given day.

The benefits are lucrative too; niche game streamers such as Joseph “Cloud 9 | Mango” Marquez make an estimated $5,000 a month from subscriptions and donations.

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Determined to raise the money for her education, Suzzane decided she would enter the streaming arena.

A little help from friends

She ran into a huge problem right at the outset: she didn’t have the resources to do it.  Internet speed is the number one requirement for streaming and with the high cost of high-speed internet in the Philippines, Irasga couldn’t stream on her own.

To be able to stream properly, a would-be streamer would need an average upload speed of 5 megabits per second. According to Ookla, owners of speedtest.net, the Philippines only has an average of 3.4 megabits per second (mbps) broadband download speed. Only a fraction of  that (at around .8 mbps) is the national average for upload speeds.

To stream in high-quality video, a gamer would have to pay upwards of P3,000 on Fiber internet monthly. No chump change for someone in a tight bind over cash.

Average South East Asian Internet speeds as of July 2014. Credits to Inquirer.net for the image and Ookla for the data.

Average South East Asian Internet speeds as of July 2014. Credits to Inquirer.net for the image and Ookla for the data.

Luckily, thanks to her friends at Rumble Royale, a local gaming community, she was able to livestream her gameplay whenever she had free time. Through the use of their streaming studio with high-speed internet, she finally started her career as a streamer.

So began Suzzysaur’s career in streaming and gaming: She put up a weekly schedule for her streams. She would find time either before her classes or just after they’ve finished to travel to the Rumble Royale HQ and spend a few hours streaming her games. The grind was real: she kept to her streaming schedule to the best of her ability, braving monstrous traffic jams around the metro so that she can go live right on time for her fans.

Suzzysaur’s expected her sessions to be part of a long burner, that she’d have to stream for months in order to accomplish her goal. She was wrong.

Suzzane crying on stream. Credits to Rumble Royale

Suzzane crying on stream. After reaching her tuition goals, she broke down in happiness and thanked her viewers.  Credits to Rumble Royale

“I was expecting that this would take like, 5 months because there are many other streamers,” said Suzzysaur, looking back. In total, seven days was all it took for her to finally achieve her goal of paying for her tuition. She managed to raise P33,385  in that timeframe, enough to pay for this semester’s tuition, along with a little extra for books and miscellaneous expenses. All the strenuous streaming sessions paid off; she’d be able to continue her schooling.

Suzzysaur cried on stream the moment the donation bar hit full, profusely thanking her audience for sticking by her all the way. “It’s like I’m nearing my dream future, to be a Computer Engineer. Oh my god!” 

Watch: The moment Suzzysaur’s donation bar filled up

This entire experience of her’s has paid for an entire semester of her schooling and so much more. It’s also going to pay for her robotics projects this quarter.

Moving forward

It isn’t over yet. Although Suzzane’s goal has been completed , she remains committed to the League of Legends community as one of its local figureheads. She’s also got her remaining semesters to pay for, and her brother’s. She also wants eliminate one thing in the League of Legends community, which is the toxicity. “Trash talk isn’t really helping. It’s like, pulling us down.”

As Suzzane says herself: “I’m living my dream life.”. Having both a successful streaming life and a starting academic career, Suzzane “Suzzysaur” Irasga is here to stay.

 

 


 

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