Over the next few years, competitive gaming will become a billion dollar industry, and it could even come to the 2024 Paris Olympics. But what are e-sports and why do people watch gaming tournaments instead of football games?
E-sports can be any form of competitive games.
From the outside, the world of competitive play looks like it's big tournaments with a strong focus on team-based games like Fortnite, Counter-Strike or Overwatch. These tournaments usually take place in large arenas (sometimes dedicated arcades), schools, nerdy arcades and bars. They are usually streamed via Twitch or YouTube, or broadcast by a large network such as ESPN or the BBC.
But that's just the outside view. Like the cause of an iceberg, the biggest sect of the competitive gaming community is invisible. There are thousands of small (not necessarily amateur) gambling 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 players focus on "speedruns" ̵
Due to the variety of competitive games on the market and the availability of livestreams, it is difficult to understand or define E-Sport exactly. One thing is for sure: e-sports are similar to "normal" sports.
Yes, e-sports are like "real" sports.
Most people see a clear difference between games and athletics. We consider playing as an unhealthy, anti-social habit – the opposite of sport. But if you do not define sport solely as "something that happens outside," it's hard to find any serious differences between "real" sports and e-sports.
As with "real" athletes, competitive athletes have to practice regularly to stay up to date. Top shape. They develop muscles that are related to their chosen sport and must adopt a good posture to avoid injuries (carpal tunnel and arthritis). Surprisingly, some professional players adhere to strict diet and exercise rules to keep their bodies at peak performance.
The world of e-sports is also incredibly social. Like sports fans, e-sports fans cultivate close friendships with each other, even if they only have gambling in common. And because playing is based on the Internet, many of these friendships are created despite social, economic or physical boundaries.
Not to mention that competitive gaming generates a lot of money. Business Insider predicts that the competitive gaming market will have a value of $ 1.5 billion by 2020 and will not include money for competitive gaming hardware such as computers and game keyboards. Sure, most NFL teams are worth twice as much as the entire e-sports market, but this gap will certainly diminish over time.
Do you need to accept competitive play as a "real" sport? Not really. There is a good chance that the general public will always make a distinction between athletics and e-sports, even though gambling at the 2024 Olympics in Paris could cause a sensation. Hell, the Olympic Committee has recognized chess as a sport for two decades, and people still do not think about chess as a sports kid, which is not entirely wrong. But the biggest games of the last decade, like Minecraft and DOTA, have been successful because they appeal to all age groups. Competitive gaming and traditional sports are successful for the same reason.
According to an ESPN poll, most of the top players in competitive sports are in their twenties. And according to the same survey, the best football, basketball, hockey and baseball players are in their twenties.
Of course we talk about the best of the best. It is not uncommon for a traditional athlete to shine as a teenager or be well over 30 or 40 years old. And as the National Federation of High School Associations continues to build e-sports teams in high schools, more children and adults will find themselves in the competitive gaming scene.