Local graduate becomes pro gamer
by Mark Andrews
Apr 18, 2014 | 4451 views | 0 0 comments | 45 45 recommendations | email to a friend | print
For 23-year-old John Salter, a 2009 graduate of Cass High School and Kennesaw State University graduate, playing video games has become much more than a hobby. Recently, Salter became a professional video game player on a team called COGnitive for the game SMITE by Hi-Rez Studios.

According to www2.hirezstudios.com, “SMITE is the online battleground of the gods. Players choose from a diverse cast of deities and use their unique powers to triumph over the opposition in 5v5 team matches. SMITE is a new take on the MOBA genre; rather than observing from above the action, the game’s third person perspective puts players into the thick of combat. Instead of clicking the mouse to move, players use the familiar WASD keys to move and fight their way through SMITE’s dynamic battlegrounds.”

Salter said, coincidentally, his gaming career took off after he finished school.

“My best friend ... actually introduced me to the game and I was in college at the time so I didn’t have a lot of time to devote to the game since I had school work and a girlfriend, work and all that fun stuff,” Salter said. “I’ve been a gamer pretty much for all my life and I thought, ‘This game is amazing,’ and after I graduated, sadly, in this economy, I couldn’t find a job, so pretty much I just started playing this game a lot. I graduated in May and got picked up [by a team] in June and then I started playing in league tournaments every Saturday for SMITE and I started doing better and better and then got recognized by COGnitive gaming in November and ... that’s where my professional gaming career skyrocketed and we won 13 tournaments in a row.”

He said his competitive nature led him to pursing gaming as far as he can.

“I’ve always wanted to be the best at everything I do and I’ve played video games my entire life and I used to watch a lot of [Major League Gaming],” Salter said. “... I love Halo and at the MLG tournaments I knew there was kind of an e-sports future and I was kind of excited about that and I always wanted to play in front of thousands of people and when I was actually able to do that, it was the greatest feeling ever.

“Whenever I stream I get several hundred people just watching me online playing a video game. I didn’t realize the following was so big, but it has grown ever since SMITE got picked up by Tencent in China. There’s going to be a worldwide tournament later this year in Shanghai, China.”

Salter said he is excited about the possibility of a career, but is glad he has another route for the future if needed.

“I want to be able to make a living off this. Right now I make enough money to make a living off it, but I want to make sure that ... I have a future to it,” Salter said. “If it doesn’t happen, I’ve always got my degree and I can go back to school and get a master’s, but I would like to make it a career for four or five years because who wouldn’t want to play games and make a living off of it for a while?”