How would you feel about a person saying, “I make a living playing video games.”
Since I have introduced Twitch in my last blog post, I think one cannot simply talk about Twitch without mentioning video games. And not just any video game, or video games in general, but the word E-Sports.
E-Sports or many-called Sports 2.0 is essentially a form of competition using video games. My first encounter with E-sports started with Warcraft 3. I remembered in 2005, Li “Sky” Xiaofeng, a Chinese professional Warcraft 3 player took the championship at the World Cyber Games and became the first Chinese World Champion in a video game. This feat was definitely the turning point for me, or even for the entire Chinese E-Sports industry.
Pic: World Cyber Games 2005 in Singapore
According to Wikipedia, “the earliest known video game competition took place on 19 October, 1972 at Stanford University for the game Spacewar,” and the first prize was a year’s subscription for Rolling Stone, PRETTY BIG DEAL. Just like many other traditional games, or sports like tennis, soccer, video game competitions started to grow exponentially. With Atari held The Space Invaders Championship (classic retro-game) in 1980, it became the first large scale video game competition, attracting more than 10,000 participants across the United States.
Pic: Spacewar on a vintage computer(left); Old Space Invaders poster (right)
As we moving along the timeline, the introduction of Internet brought online video games into the sights of gamers all around the world. More and more games were played competitively, and more and more video-games tournaments were held globally. At the early 2000s, three video games were at the center stage of E-sports: Counter-Strike, StarCraft, and Warcraft 3.
However, comparing to that, nowadays, E-sports IS OVER 9,000 (which means the industry is so much bigger now). Countless video games are competed on the professional level. One of the biggest drivers that pushes eSports is the tournament prize money. During the 2017 Dota2 International, the total prize pool was at $24,787,916 with the first place taking over $10 million. Moreover, eSports teams are now organized like typical sports teams, with coaches, managers, company sponsors, etc. Gamers would practice in a gaming-house with their team members, 8-hours a day on a schedule, traveling for tournaments, receiving a salary just like any other sports athlete.
Now, why should you care? Because eSports Industry is becoming one of the biggest and fastest growing digital industries. According to Goldman Sachs, the eSports industry was at $500 million value in 2016 with an annually compounded growth rate of 22% in the next three years. eSports industry is moving into mainstream driving revenues, growth and investor’s attentions. Just name a couple examples: NBA has announced that it will launch its own eSports league for basketball games, 2K, in 2018. ESPN has also introduced the eSports section as well as buying eSports broadcasting rights.
FUN FACT: Actually, ESPN broadcasted the tournament Heroes of the Dorm in 2016, and BOSTON COLLEGE ACTUALLY MADE TOP 8 IN THE NATION! ! !
The point is that, although you may not be a gaming enthusiast, the growing trend of eSports industry should not be neglected. In my opinion, soon enough, many fortune 500 companies would start moving into this new arena if not already. With Amazon acquiring Twitch, video games are no longer just video games.
With all that being said, whether eSports or video games should be part of the social mainstream is still controversial. Many voices are calling that eSports cannot be an actual sport, playing video games does not actually contribute to the society, or sitting in front of computer for so long might not be good for your health. Currently, video games still has the connotation of addiction, obesity, social awkwardness such and such. However, while people think that video games are only a kids-thing, I see great future for eSports.