But the top 8 game tournaments have now reached over a million dollars in prizes with the biggest pulling almost 3 million dollars. I have known a few professional gamers as students and friends and remember the cognitive dissonance they would experience when I informed them that they were already making more money than most of their professors and certainly almost all my librarians. The inevitable, "Why I am going to college then?" always popped up.
What is amazing is that the pros I knew/know were making anywhere from 40-80k/year, and they are not the ones playing in the million dollar tournaments on the list I linked to, which would indicate that the market is quite healthy for making a living "gaming". For example, I knew talented students who quit jobs to simply power up characters in World of Warcraft or unlock/attain various other items/achievements in other MMOs because after I helped them do the calculations they realized that their per hour income selling characters on ebay was so much higher than any other part-time work (usually around $18/hr).
It is also amazing because it could seem to contradict my belief that digitization of goods and services commodifies them. But that is because gaming companies have figured out ways to counteract the commodification effect. Only truly hardcore gamers can attain these feats in a "reasonable" amount of time, but there are millions more gamers who want those achievements and are willing to pay for them rather than put in the time.
The question is how do libraries create value that has similar demand? I have argued elsewhere that our one book per user model is outmoded in the digital arena, as users instinctively know that every book can be replicated immediately. We do know that a small percentage of our patrons are willing to wait on a digital hold list for an item, but how long will that last and will it transfer to new generations of library users? Unfortunately, the gaming example above seems to indicate that while artificial scarcity can be created in the digital economy all that scarcity does it encourage the base population to spend money to alleviate that scarcity. If gamers are willing to buy a character or achievement rather than wait, it seems logical to assume that those potential library patrons will also buy the book rather than wait for it.
Perhaps this is a bad analogue for libraries, as games have an inherent competition that does not exist with reading. But as I mused through my surprise at how much money game competitions are generating, I couldn't help but make the comparison.