ESports is making a name for itself, and not just in the gaming community. Professional gaming tournaments may have some way to go before they become mainstream entertainment, but it looks like they are off to a good start.
Nothing Like a Good Competition
Sport is a spectacle that combines skill with thrill and can leave a heart racing. It can also bring about a sense of belonging, going to a game with friends or sharing a high five with a neighbour at the bar.
There is excitement when the team wins and dismay when it loses. It spurs the competitive spirit and allows people to express themselves in a safe environment. If you jumped up, yelled, and shook your fist at the TV, people might think you were crazy, unless you were watching sports.
ESports offers very much of the same aspects. Competitive eSports are usually team-based, and the teams have their own name, logo, and colours. Large competitions are held in sold-out arenas with announcers, cheering fans, and commercial breaks. Fans can buy merchandise from their favourite teams or players. There is a loyal fanbase, as well as good-natured rivalries that keep interest alive.
A Technological Boost
When eSports first came on the scene, it was through local area network (LAN) tournaments. Technology to transmit from the computer to a jumbo-screen had not yet been developed, which made viewing difficult. As a result, computer gaming was something of a solitary hobby, despite the connections between players.
Today people can watch other players through Twitch or on YouTube. Through jumbo screens, fans can watch their favourite players show off their immense skill sets in a fast-paced environment. A once solitary hobby has now become an event suitable for large audiences.
The popularity of phone games may also contribute to esports’ relatively easy immersion. Mobile games contribute heavily to the gaming popularity. Now that most people have mobile phones, apps and games are easily manoeuvred by all. Where gaming may have seemed daunting a few years ago, mobile games may have helped bridge the gap.
Stability in the Job Market
Professional gamers are incredibly versatile. Gamers who started in one game can easily move onto other games. The skills required, such as mechanics and reflexes, can be transferred from one game to another. Hyung-seok "Bischu" Kim was a professional League of Legends player who then moved on to be a professional Overwatch player.
This versatility allows professional players to have an element of stability in their jobs. Game trends may come and go as popularity wanes, but professional gamers can move on to the next big game, constantly transferring their skills until retirement.
Professional gaming is becoming so popular that some American universities are offering eSports scholarships. Being skilled at video games can actually help pay for university while prepping for the professional eSport scene.
The Stigma has Gone
Thanks in part to popular celebrities such as Mila Kunis, who has talked about playing World of Warcraft when she was a guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, the stigma that used to surround gamers appears to be dwindling.
The video game Overwatch recently held its professional league grand finals. It was aired on TV, on big name networks such as ESPN and Disney. This could signal a progression for gaming, where watching professional games on TV will be just as normal as watching a football match. eSports could one day have their own channel on TV.
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