By CBSLA Staff

NEWPORT BEACH (CBSLA) — The world of competitive video gaming is a fast-growing industry that connects people from all around the world.

Within e-sports, several professions are available, including professional players, developers, producers, artists, and reporters, like University of Southern California journalism graduate Hawken Miller.

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Miller’s incorporates his life motto, “Focus on ability,” in various aspects of his daily activities.

Before joining this booming billion-dollar industry, Miller was a long-time gamer and loved sports.

The now 23-year-old said his diagnosis of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) at 6 years old limited the kinds of activities he could participate in, but eSports opened up a new door.

(Source: KCAL9)

“It’s been something that being in a wheelchair that I can do, that I can compete with my friends,” Miller said.

As much as he loves playing, Miller said the stories of players and presenters is what excited him most and got him into the video game industry.

He studied journalism at USC before learning the ins-and-outs of reporting with a stint at the Washington Post.

Now back at home in Orange County, Miller found there’s never a shortage of eSports stories to research and share.

Last year, he went to the grand finals for Overwatch, a first-person game set on a near-future earth, developed by Irvine-based video game company Blizzard.

There, players got to compete in person as part of a professional international eSports league.

“It was incredible the energy of fans,” Miller said. “Each person — I feel like — is so passionate about it.”

That energy can be seen through the work of the eSports version of sportscasters who give play-by-play updates about competitions.

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“They get all riled up, help the audience enjoy more,” Miller said.

The most sought-after job in the eSports space is to be a professional player, where following online can become massive and for some, the pay is also substantial.

As Miller describes, the perks of working in games are clear, but it also takes hard work.

“Being a professional in a video game is not as easy as it sounds. It takes a lot of practice. You have to have good reflexes,” he said. “There’s so much that goes into it that people don’t see on the outside.” 

Of all the STEAM disciplines, making a living in the world of eSports relies most on technology and art.

“Everyone needs to learn how to use their creative muscle because everyone has it,” Miller said. “My knowledge of computers from gaming and being involved in the community has been helpful for covering e-sports.”

For people seeking a career in eSports, Miller recommends getting familiar with games and brushing up on some technology since the industry relies on its use.

His advice to anyone struggling to find their path while dealing with a challenge is to look past obstacles.

“My personal mantra is focusing on what you can do. Don’t focus on what you can’t do,” Miller said. [Esports] has given me a sense of purpose and a sense of where I want to go, and has helped me focus on that rather than the disease.”

Miller will be playing in a virtual national gaming tournament on Saturday, Oct. 10 at 12 p.m. PT.

The event, which is hosted by CureDuchenne and PTC Therapeutics, aims to connect patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy and bring gamers together across the country.

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Learn more about The Duchenne United Gaming Twitch Tournament here.