For many decades, playing video games and PC titles was an activity enjoyed alone or with a few others who were willing to cart over their own consoles or controllers. This helped to create the stereotype that gamers were lonesome nerds who spent hours on their own either in their bedrooms or basements, which usually belonged to their mothers. This stereotype remained for much longer than was fair on those who enjoy playing video and PC games. In fact, even when the internet became a mainstream household luxury and gamers were able to play together in large, social groups those who didn’t enjoy games still regarded the activity as boring, time-consuming and immature.
Now though, the tables appear to be turning. Over the last few years, those same gamers who were mocked for playing video games instead of going outside have become professional sportsman and women who may even have the potential to become as popular as those who play more traditional sports such as cricket, rugby and football. These individuals are known as professional gamers, and they are ruling the eSports arena.
What Are eSports?
Short for electronic sports, eSports is the collective term for competitive and professional gaming. While it has taken a while for eSports to gain some traction, huge events are now thrown in arenas around the world, with hundreds of teams and thousands of individuals competing against each other for acclaim, trophies and other rewards.
Though eSports has become more popular over the last few years, it is by no means a new phenomenon. The very first competition recorded in history occurred in 1972 at Stanford University, when students competed in an “Intergalactic Spacewar Olympics”. Two teams competed for hours on the entire university’s one and only PDP-10 computer on a game titled Spacewar!. Five individual gamers also competed against each other in what would now be referred to as a free-for-all event.
Still, it wasn’t until almost three decades later that organisations and tournaments were established, such as Major League Gaming (MGL) which continues to hold competitions throughout the United States and Canada though they were bought out by Activision Blizzard in early 2016. Over the years, professional gaming tournaments continued to gain traction within the community and eventually with others interested in the new sport, which leads us to today’s eSports-obsessed era.
Why Are eSports Popular With Players?
Arguably, 2017 was by far the most exciting year for eSports so far (though we of course have high hopes for 2018). One of the largest leaps for professional gaming occurred in the fall when the Beijing National Stadium, set to host the Winter Olympics 2012, hosted a huge League of Legends (LoL) tournament. New records were also set when DOTA 2 player Kuro ‘KuroKy’ Takhasomi managed to earn a massive $2.4 million after winning The International 2017 with Team Liquid and Spencer ‘Gorilla’ Ealing became the highest earning FIFA player of all time after winning $250,000.
Needless to say, talented players can earn a lot of money by engaging in eSports. It may not be as much as professional tennis players or footballers earn as of yet, but there’s certainly hope that prizes will evolve in the future. No doubt, as the prize pot continues to grow and the sport becomes more legitimate more professional gamers will be attracted to compete. After all, who wouldn’t want to travel the world competing in famous arenas for millions of dollars?
Why Are eSports Popular With Spectators?
Not only is professional gaming popular with those who actually take part, it is a hugely prevalent sport among spectators. This isn’t all too surprising since some of the most popular accounts on the video social media site YouTube are owned by individuals who simply record themselves playing games. Clearly, there’s something about watching others play games well and interacting with others within the eSports community that is extremely appealing.
This is why sites like Twitch, Dingit and Youtube are so popular. Twitch, widely regarded as ‘the world’s leading video platform and community for gamers’, boasts over 100 million unique monthly users, 2.2 million monthly broadcasts and 241 billion minutes of gaming content available. Twitch endeavours to stream every big eSports tournament that takes place, which is why the company is partnered with game developers such as Blizzard and BANDIA NAMCO, with each attracting thousands of viewers.
Some of the more dedicated spectators have legitimised eSports further by indulging in online eSports betting. For instance, when at bets.io, spectators and enthusiasts can place wagers on their favourite teams, games and individual players. This site and others like it can also help audiences work out which teams are forecast to win which tournaments, and whether individual players have a chance of winning their respective games.
When speaking to online media outlet Alphr, Twitch’s director of eSports programs Justin Dellario stated: “When you tune into an eSports broadcast on Twitch, you are experiencing more than just the viewing of a match. You’re interacting with other viewers who share similar interests, commentating on what is happening on screen and, in turn, building connection with your community.”
Needless to say, eSports are already incredibly popular with more players and spectators being attracted to the world of professional gaming all the time. We hope that in the future, eSports will become just as respected within the world of sports as its more traditional counterparts. In fact, if you are a player or a fan of eSports please let us know about it in the comments below!