Introduction to E-sports
What are E-sports?
The term ‘E-sports’ refers to the phenomenon of people playing electronic games competitively, currently for salaries and prize pools, for audiences regularly reaching half a million concurrent viewers, and sometimes totalling over 30 million for a single event.
The esports environment is increasingly popular, truly global in reach, and is increasingly resembling the sports world. Why do people play these games so fervently? Even weirder, why do they watch people play games and; who else is involved? Here’s a brief introduction - into the world of esports; the future of sport.
So which games are being played?
The most famous genre in e-sports at the moment is the MOBA genre. The two most famous of these games would be League of legends, and Dota. Both of them are strategic five versus five team games and are played by millions of players every single day. They both originated from a community created off-shoot of the game starcraft; which makes it the grandfather of these two games, and esports as it is today. Starcraft was a national pastime in South Korea well before the current esports craze hit the rest of the world.
Two other quintessential esports titles are Counter-strike and Hearthstone. Counter-strike is again a community created game, which recently regained a lot of attention due to a new tournament circuit being set up. Lastly, Hearthstone is to esports what poker is to ‘regular’ sports. A strategic card game which with it’s simplicity has allowed it to grow rapidly world-wide, as it is playable even on mobile devices.
Many of these games are team-based. Of the top five watched games on twitch, only one is a game where only two individuals compete with each other. So clearly, one of the key elements which appeals about the phenomenon is its social aspect. Teams allow for social dynamics to be discussed and make headlines, but with team sizes of only five players, individual talent is not lost in the shadows of a larger team. Everyone’s contribution to team success is visible to all those who watch, as are their mistakes.
Players, teams, leagues, sponsors, broadcasters and federations; pretty much a mirror of the sporting world, but only in it’s infancy. Supporting infrastructure is developing as more and more companies are realizing the potential to engage with a demographic that is highly sought after. A lot of the hype around e-sports can be attributed to the rise of the website twitch; in essence a youtube where gamers can play and engage with their communities live. This interactive entertainment is something other companies are only recently starting to catch on to, and the steady increase of money into the industry seems to imply it’s worth the effort.
Why do they watch?
Why do people watch these E-sports? Well, why does the whole world watch 22 grown men kick a ball on a grass field? Competition seems to be a natural and therefore global phenomenon, and technology is finally starting to allow for real-time competitions to be viewed globally. The fact that a generation that has grown up with these technologies enjoys people competing via these means, does not come as a surprise.
Larger brands have tried in the past to get involved with this space, but met little success. Part of the reason for the current success however could be attributed to the increasing ease of access the world has to the games. Internet infrastructure is not only increasing in quality world-wide, but the most played games do not tax their respective consoles as much as flashier games do. The more easily accessible a game is, the more easily an individual is able to get their friends involved. As the globe becomes better connected, this space will increase drastically along with it, and the games that are played will most likely become more complex. For now though It will be those games which are the easiest to install and run as well as being cheap that will be the most popular. Playing a game is a natural human pass-time, and being able to play a game with family or friends halfway across the world provides the ability for new shared experiences to be created online.
Sports have often been used to bridge barriers between groups of people. It makes sense that in this digital age, we have ‘digital sports’ that help us connect, compete, and improve the skills we need to succeed and move forward together in an increasingly digital world.
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