In the next few years, competitive gaming will become a multi-billion dollar industry, and it could even come to the 2024 Paris Olympics. But what are E-Sports, and why are people watching gaming tournaments instead of football games?
E-Sports Can Be Any Form of Competitive Gaming
From the outside, the world of competitive gaming looks like it’s built around large-scale tournaments, with a strong focus on team-based games such as Fortnite, Counter-Strike, or Overwatch. These tournaments are typically held in large arenas (sometimes dedicated gaming arenas), schools, nerdy arcades, and bars. They’re usually livestreamed via Twitch or YouTube, or broadcasted by a major network such as ESPN or the BBC.
But that’s just the outside view. Like the bottom of an iceberg, the largest sect of the competitive gaming community is hidden from view. There are thousands of small (not necessarily amateur) competitive gaming communities. Some of them focus on digital card games like Hearthstone, others play fighters like Mortal Kombat and Smash Brothers, and an even smaller group of gamers focuses on “speedruns”–how fast you can complete a single player game. Some of these competitive gamers livestream their games on Twitch or Youtube, while others simply communicate over Discord, a chat software.
Due to the variety of competitive games on the market and the accessibility of livestreaming, it’s difficult to comprehend or define E-Sports accurately. But one thing’s for sure: E-Sports are similar to “regular” sports.
Yes, E-Sports are Like “Real” Sports
Most people see a clear distinction between gaming and athletics. We think of gaming as an unhealthy, antisocial habit—the opposite of sports. But unless you solely define sports as “something that happens outside,” it’s hard to find serious differences between “real” sports and E-Sports.
Like “real” athletes, competitive gamers have to practice regularly to keep in tip-top shape. They develop muscles related to their chosen sport and have to use good posture to avoid injury (carpal tunnel and arthritis). Surprisingly, some professional gamers stick to strict diets and exercise regiments to keep their body working at peak efficiency.
The world of E-Sports is also incredibly social. Like football fans, E-Sport fans develop close friendships with one another, even if gaming is the only thing that they have in common. And because gaming is based around the internet, many of these friendships occur in spite of social, economic, or physical boundaries.
Not to mention, competitive gaming generates a ton of money. Business Insider predicts that the competitive gaming market will be worth $1.5 billion by 2020, and that doesn’t include the money from competitive gaming hardware, like computers and gaming keyboards. Sure, most NFL teams are worth twice as much as the entire E-Sports market, but that gap is sure to narrow over time.
Do you have to accept competitive gaming as a “real” sport? Not really. There’s a good chance that the general public will always create a distinction between athletic sports and E-Sports, even though competitive gaming may make a splash at the 2024 Paris Olympics. Hell, the Olympic Committee has recognized chess as a sport for two decades, and people still don’t think of chess as a sport.
Competitive Gaming Appeals to All Ages
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