In Greece, just like other countries around the world, high-profile video gamers, playing for money, have become superstars. But not all of them are doing so legitimately, with under-the-radar gambling and illegal sales of in-game assets putting cash into the pockets of those who set out to corrupt the system.
e-Gamers is a film produced by VICE Greece, documenting the stories of a handful of domestic players. One in four people in Greece is hooked on these digital distractions, and that equals plenty of opportunity for the shadier sorts in the scene to exploit those desperate to get the best weapons, the newest skins, and to ultimately achieve the highest scores.
(Be sure to turn on captions, for English subtitles.)
In e-Gamers, VICE meets Stelios Athanasiadis, aka R1OU, one of Greece's most popular streamers, who earns some of his money through fan support. He tells us about his commitment to the cause, and how playing games full time has seen other aspects of his life fade away. We visit Cowboy TV, the largest online gaming community in Greece, and speak to "Giorgos", who's part of the country's thriving underground gaming economy, selling virtual weapons for real money.
With unemployment amongst young people high in Greece (the country has an overall unemployment rate of over 25 percent, and its economy has shrunk by a quarter in five years), it's easy to see why so many look to gaming for a source of income. But whether that comes legally or not, there's always risk involved, and the film also addresses the damaging nature of gaming addiction. These virtual realities are a massive part of life for millions of people worldwide, and Greece is just one microcosm of many.