More of us than usual have felt the pressure of what working from home means, but for some this was always the deal. Alongside the freelancers and full-time parents is a new breed of homeworker. Even more tied to their computers, with even less time for meetings and mates, they grind out a career playing video games and streaming themselves on platforms like Twitch. Gaming has evolved into a modern subculture with its own language, communities and uniform, and the professional esports player exists at its most hardcore edges.
19-year-old Jake ‘Smeef’ Smith plays Fortnite for London-based Fnatic, one of the scene’s most successful teams, and competed at last year’s World Cup in New York. Growing up trying to beat his dad at everything from Mario Kart to Call of Duty, Smith - ranked 44th in the world - lives with his family in Mansfield and practices for up to 12 hours a day. “When you’re always at home you get sucked into a deep hole. Sometimes you can go a week without being outside, or even seeing sunlight,” he says. “It’s taught me to keep up my fitness levels. That’s why I love my treadmill; running makes me feel stronger and gives me some headspace.”