Ok so I’m just gonna get this out there: I like sports, played in high school and still play today as much as I can, but I can also be pretty nerdy in my own right. I enjoy video games. they can be relaxing-until that competitive nature comes out and then that’s how friendships are ruined(thank you Mario Kart).
I’ve met some pretty competitive people in the gaming world and yes while it can be fun, and maddening to play with or against them, a lot of people overlook or often forget that there are people who actually GET PAID to play some games. Like a job. Like a paid salary with bonuses(depending on which game and organization you’re with). No BS.
That’s why I wanted to take a brief look into a world that is increasing in every way imaginable. eSports, also referred to as professional gaming has been making its way into the main-mainstream of the competitive world for quite some time, but here’s where the fun stuff happens. Competitive gaming has been referred to by many pros of the community and many others as a “true sport” but has not yet officially gotten the acceptance so many want for it. Of course, there are arguments from both sides. There always are. That’s not for me to say one way or the other. The definition of sport says this: an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or a team competes against another or others for entertainment. It has been, and still is, a debated issue.
In fact, The non-gaming world and the pro-gaming world have met quite a few times over the years. Like when John Skipper, president of ESPN, said in a 2014 tech conference after ESPN bought out Twitch.tv(an online media streaming platform), “eSports is a competition, not a sport,”. The issue even came up on an episode of Real Sports with Bryant Gumble in 2013. See here: https://youtu.be/Box01YzekaQ no, it’s not the entire episode but you get the picture. Even just four years ago people had no idea this type of thing existed and when proposed to the idea it was laughable to them.
There are a few genres and even more games used when it comes to competitive gaming. The biggest game types used in the pro circuits include Real-time Strategy(RTS), First Person Shooters(FPS), Multiplayer Online Battle Arena(MOBA), and Fighting games. Of course the Fighting game genre, as well as its counterpart-arcade fighters-are more widely used in amateur competitions and have distanced themselves from the label of eSports. The most successful titles featured in the mid 2010’s were Dota 2, League of Legends, Heroes of the Storm, and Smite for the MOBA community. For the FPS genre, Counter Strike: Global Terrorism, the Call of Duty franchise, the rise of Overwatch, and the return of the Halo franchise(let’s be honest, many fans like to forget the period of time between Halo 3 and Halo 5); and for the RTS lovers, everyone’s beloved StarCraft II and a classic favorite of mine: Age of Empires(yeah, you only thought this series may have gone away after you were a kid but AoE 4 is currently in production: https://youtu.be/RYwZ6GZXWhA
South Korea has established several competitive gaming organizations that have licensed pro gamers since the year 2000. And one of the earliest meetings of competitive gaming? 1981. Yes. Dozens of people gathered together to compete for setting the high score on Space Invaders. Gaming competitions were largely between amateurs until the late 2000’s when popularity started to surge. Because of this increase many game developers actively now steer their game design towards pro/multiplayer action. Don’t believe it’s that popular? Okay, well in 2013 it was estimated that around 71.5 million people watched eSports. This is widely acclaimed to the increasing availability of online media streaming sites like Twitch(as mentioned before) which has aided in the growth and development of professional gaming. Still don’t that’s all that impressive? Cool, well the eSports audience in 2015 was 226 million people. And guess what, with an audience comes money. According to SuperData(the world’s leading provider of market intelligence covering the global markets for games across all platforms), it was estimated, in 2015, that the global eSports industry generated around $750 million in revenue. That’s quite a bit. But that number is only growing higher. By 2018 the industry is estimated to reach about $2BILLION. With a “B”.
So here’s my thing. It may not be a “true sport” right now. And I’m not saying it should or shouldn’t be, but here’s something to think about: Remember sports today evolved from ancient sports where people killed each other all the time. For entertainment. That was what they deemed sport. Granted, we still have similar sports today that seem like that’s what people do to each other-Boxing and UFC-but it’s nowhere near as often that someone dies. My point is sports evolve. Maybe eSports is just part of the process.