Most eSports fans know what Gaming Houses are. Still, people who are new to competitive gaming or never bothered to think about the life of a professional player, might not know what they are. If you are one of those people, you should know that Gaming Houses are, obviously, houses, where players, coaches and support staff live during the season, practicing for tournaments, spending their downtime together. Basically, it’s just like having four or more roommates, only you can’t really hide when you’re not in the mood to talk to people.
The benefits of living in a Gaming House are aplenty. For one, players usually have their physiological needs taken care of with minimal effort, as there’s food and similar amenities. Also, when you live in a Gaming House, you spend most of your waking time with your teammates, often resulting in close friendships sprouting up between you. The best team environments can result in a brotherhood-like bond forming between the members of the team, increasing the results they show when they play in tournaments. Also, staying in close quarters ensures similar ping and makes communicating easier. It’s much easier to watch tape when you can just set up on the living room’s couch together with your teammates, coaches, and analysts.
It’s not all rainbows and unicorns, however. While a Gaming House environment can be a big part of a team doing well when it’s going good, it can also be a complete hellhole when the team isn’t doing well or there is friction between players. In that case, the clashing parties have nowhere to disappear. Even if only two players are clashing, the situation can degenerate into a drama-fest, worthy of high school soap operas, especially when you keep in mind that players aren’t yet mature enough to handle it like adults. Even if it starts out as beef between two people, the rest can get get dragged into it as well, making the whole team environment implode from inside.
Ignoring drama, professional gaming is also much more stressful than some people think. When you live in a Gaming House, you have no place to forget the game and decompress, because everyone around you is living through the same problems. While it CAN bring the team together, it’s often the case that the Gaming House becomes like a powder keg, bound for an explosion, unless something is done to stop it.
These problems can be fixed if the support staff are good at conflict resolution and psychology, however, it isn’t the case very often, with eSports being a new industry with few true professionals. When it’s in fact the case, I believe that it would be smart to consider the possibility of renting an office space for scrims and VOD review, allowing players to keep their own flats to live in, only coming in for practice. This would help stave off any drama which is bound to occur, while also keeping most of the benefits a gaming house provides. The players would have to spend some time cleaning up, which would take some time away from practice, however.
There are positives and negatives for both approaches. While the immersion provided by Gaming Houses can be a boon or a curse in some cases, the separate office place for practice does shrink down the danger of drama, while also lessening the potential team-building opportunities. Depending on the organization’s priorities, both options are worthy of consideration, in my opinion.