I played two entirely different video games professionally for multiple years. That is, I traveled around the country often on a sponsor's dollar and competed in video game tournaments for money. I believe I can provide good insights into professional gaming. If you want to know more just ask!
I'm now lead developer at LiveNinja an internet startup that I will shamelessly promote here.
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This is actually quite common. To give you example here is a site where you can hire pro Starcraft 2 players to coach you http://www.gosucoaching.com/content/lessons. Prices vary from $15-$300 an hour depending on how top of a player you want to coach you. I don't know many lessons these people actually sell but, it does exist and lessons do seem to be bought. Similar sites exist for most of the big games.
For people who play games competitively I'd say the stereotype is not that true. Not the coolest people in the world by any means but, professional gamers in my experience tend to be much closer to "normal" than some of common stereotypes portray. For the random gamer, I don't know. There are definitely gamers who play single player games or mmorpg non-stop that fit that description, but those aren't professional gamers.
Beta testing is pretty public these days, so I've beta tested several games but that didn't require me having a pro graming background. For earlier stage game testing the job tends to be a lot of look at every wall and report if it is there. That is to say not that fun. I've heard of pro gamers being recruited to test some games that were designed to be competitive but that is pretty rare and I've never been specifically recruited.
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I do play some of my old n64 favorites for fun and nostalgia from time to time. N64 was my first real introduction to video games (deprived childhood I know) so I don't go much older than that.
I have never seen a physical fight happen in a gaming tournament. I heard that once around 5 years ago there was a fight between Gears of War teams at a major tournament and that was a big part of the reason the game got dropped from that tournament circuit. That is just hear say and could be incredibly wrong, to focus on the question physical fights are somewhere between very rare and non-existent. I have seen a few people break their controllers or keyboards when they lose a very important match or lose to a tactic they think is "cheap." Although, that too is rare.
I've never actually discussed it with another gamer. I personally don't believe violent video games lead to behavioral problems in kids or at worse the media exaggerates the effect. I think the research on the topic is mixed but, I haven't ever seriously looked into the research so consider that more of an uneducated view on the topic.
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