Inside the Professional Gamer’s Phone
Despite what your mom told you, you really can make your living playing video games. Each year, professional video gamers collect hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize money in global video game (or “eSports”) tournaments like World Cyber Games (WCG) and Electronic Sports World Cup. They sign lucrative sponsorship deals and cultivate legions of fans around the world.
If all of this surprises you, you’ll probably be even more surprised to learn that one of the biggest stars and toughest players in today’s eSports realm is a 25-year-old woman.
Known in the business as Mrs. Violence, Kelly Kelley (yes, that’s her real name — she married into it) grew up in San Diego, one of six children. She started gaming at age three and won her first $500 prize at 12. Soon, Kelly made a name for herself, placing consistently among the top 20 players worldwide in traditionally male-dominated games like Halo, Call of Duty, Gears of War, Rainbow Six and more.
Though still a master behind a game controller, Kelly is probably better known today as a host and commentator at eSports tournaments throughout North America, as well as star of two gamer-centric reality TV shows — WCG Ultimate Gamer and GameSpot’s The Controller.
As she travels and games all over the US, Canada and Mexico, Kelly is positively addicted to her phone, a Motorola Droid Bionic.
“My phone is more important than my wallet,” says the San Diego native. “I sleep with it next to me. I carry a charger and extra battery with me everywhere I go. I need my phone for everything.”
Taking pictures, posting tournament score updates, connecting with her adoring fans or taking notes, Kelly can’t imagine life without her phone. Southwest Airlines and Bank of America apps allow her to manage her travel and her money, no matter where she is. Facebook and Twicca keep her in touch with fans and gamers all over the world, while also enabling her to promote the breast cancer, leukemia and equal marriage rights charities she supports. When she needs downtime, YouTube entertains Kelly with videos and music, and Twitch allows her to watch live eSports tournaments from anywhere.
And yes, Mrs. Violence uses her phone for gaming too.
“I play a lot of sim games,” Kelly says, referring to massively multiplayer online (MMO) simulation games that challenge players to carefully manage scenarios instead of shooting one another.
“I’m highly addicted to My Little Pony right now,” Kelly confesses during our interview. “Mylittlepony24 was my gamer tag when I started wrecking faces in Halo,” she laughs.
With all the talk linking video games to real-life mayhem — not to mention Kelly’s nom-de-jeux — you might think this 25-year-old mistress of first-person shooters would be scary in the real world, but she insists that is not the case.
“I’m only violent in a game; I wouldn’t hurt any living thing,” Mrs. Violence insists. After a pause, she amends her statement: “Unless it’s dove season. I love hunting doves.”