Last week news broke that FaZe clan member Jarvis has been handed a lifelong Fortnite ban. The heavy-handed punishment is a result of Jarvis using banned aimbot software during non-competitive gameplay, which he uploaded to YouTube. The rumors are that he was also using other hacks in both Creative Mode and Solos, for the purpose of creating video content to entertain his fans.
While the ban seems harsh, especially when a player caught cheating during the Fortnite World Cup qualifier was later allowed to try again, the real question that needs to be asked is why is an eSports pro using cheats in the first place?
Why Does A Pro Not Know The Consequences Of Cheating?
The most obvious question to be asked in this case is how does a professional player not know the consequences of cheating? You would think that "don't cheat" would be ingrained into the brain of all professional players but yet it seems that Jarvis has never received such guidance.
Granted, he may be lying or playing the dumb card, but realistically we need to explore the possibility that he's simply young, naive and focused on entertainment and always being on form. This desire and drive to produce the best videos has then led to a stupid decision, with Jarvis presumably thinking that if he only cheats outside of competitions for entertainment purposes then that's ok.
Assuming we take his apology and proclamation of innocence at face value then we need to look at why Jarvis has not received proper career advice and guidance. Surely that should be the job of FaZe clan?
FaZe Clan's Failures
This is not the first time that FaZe Clan has been under the microscope. Earlier this year eSports legend Tfue began proceedings against the eSports management company, claiming that his contract is illegal.
While the Clan denied the allegations, a leak by a third party of Tfue's alleged contract backs up his statements about the Clan taking up to 80% of his revenue.
If a Clan isn't even offering members a fair cut of their own revenue it stands to reason that they aren't offering much other support either. Assuming the allegations are true, this is unlikely to be limited to FaZe either, not by a long shot. Young gamers are easily led and many are vulnerable to exploitation, so what needs to change?
Misunderstanding And Misinformation
The world of eSports can be overwhelming, especially to younger players. Jarvis is still only 17, not even a legal adult yet, and he's far from the only young player on the scene. There are a huge amount of professional gamers who are under the age of 25 and many of them have very limited life experience. Some haven't even finished college before they are thrown into the chaotic and confusing world of eSports, suddenly thrust into the limelight in the same manner as child actors.
Parents of these young players are also of a generation who are much less educated about gaming. They often don't understand how the games work and if this is combined with a lack of business knowledge that it's easy to see how some organizations manage to get these youngsters to sign exploitative contracts or stand by and watch them make stupid mistakes without anyone stepping in. The bigger question is, can we help prevent this?
How The Industry Needs To Improve
The eSports Community must begin taking responsibility for its stars. This needs to start with reasonable contracts. A fair contract is a foundation for a good relationship between Clan and gamer but these players also need and deserve support beyond that.
Gamers can earn hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars if they make it professionally. With all this money rolling in more of it needs to be spent on proper support networks for them.
How to manage a business, how to invest wisely, and how to conduct yourself in public and in front of the media are all skills that these players need to know. Unfortunately from how often we see youngsters banned for inappropriate language or other misdemeanors, it seems this isn't happening.
Mental Health support is also another vital area in which gamers need support. While many think it sounds great to get paid to play games the reality is that the industry is very fickle and the "always-on" persona gamers need to maintain is mentally draining. Especially as taking time off often leads to a loss of subscribers and revenue, causing many to overwork themselves.
Building A Strong Community
To build a strong community you need a strong support network and the industry needs to get better at this. If changes aren't made then we'll see a crash and burn out of far too many of our stars, resulting in more tragedies like the recent passing of Etika.
There's a huge amount of support that Clans, organizations and even studios can offer to their players. By acknowledging this and providing it, then together the community can grow and support its players, allowing for a more solid base of skilled and healthy gamers. It's time to invest some of that eSports money back into supporting the professionals who make the industry what it is, before it's too late.