What is an esport?
If you’re not in your early 20’s, you might have heard this term “esports” and wondered “What is an esport?” Esports, put simply, are competitive video game leagues. The most common video game genres associated with esports are real-time strategy, fighting, first-person shooter (FPS), and multi-player online battle arena (MOBA). The most prominent games played competitively are:
Organized online and offline competitions have long been a part of video game culture. Goldeneye, Mario Kart, Super Tecmo Bowl. We all competed in those games.
Participation and spectatorship of such events have seen a large surge in popularity from the late 2000s to early 2010s. While competitions around the year 2000 were largely between amateurs, the proliferation of professional competitions and growing viewership now supports a significant number of professional players and teams.
Most video game developers now build features into their games designed to facilitate such competition. Where tournaments used to be held in bars, and video game stores, they are now selling out Madison Square Garden, and building dedicated esports arenas.
Today people spend more time playing video games than playing all offline sports combined. There are already 188 million people watching esports, and total esports viewing hours will reach 6.6 billion by 2018. Esports now have a fan base that rivals most traditional sports leagues, and the industry is on pace to surpass $9 billion in revenue by 2017. Esports are the new bowling league, or softball league night.
So is it just stoner kids and losers in their parents basement playing? Not at all. Males aged 21-35 make up the majority of esports enthusiasts in the US (43 percent) and Western Europe (45 percent).
Breaking the gamer stereotypes, these players are more likely than the average gamer to be married, 52 percent versus 39 percent, and have a full-time job, 71 percent versus 50 percent. Esports enthusiasts also put their money where their interests are. They carry the biggest game wallets with 22 percent of them being big spenders, compared to 8 percent for all games.
Some of the top players in esports make their living playing a respective game every day. Honing their skill, and live streaming their play online through YouTube, or Twitch, this brings in revenue for them and the organizations they compete for.
Players like @Nadeshot, @gsmVoiD, @optic_Scumper, and @Olofmeister_ have used the games they compete in to create huge social media & online followings. Esports organizations are big business now as well. Teams are owned and run like corporations.
Mike Rufail aka @Hastr0 started as a gamer, and now has one of the most successful and wide ranging organizations in Team Envyus. With teams in all major games, he has recently inked a deal to build a massive campus for his teams in Charlotte, NC to play, train, and live. Some other prominent team owners are Sacramento Kings Owner Andy Miller, NBA Legend Shaquille O’Neal, future MLB Hall of Famer Alex Rodriguez, MLB player Jimmy Rollins, former NBA Star Rick Fox, Utah Jazz player Gordon Hayward, LA Rams player Roger Saffold.
Esports are already being recognized by U.S. universities, some of which are giving out athletic scholarships to students based on their video game skills.
TBS will be hosting the first ever competitive league on television in 2016. ESPN now has an esports section and coverage. Machinima is launching “Inside Esports” an equivalent to Sportscenter. Speaking of ESPN they have gotten in the mix as well. The X-Games already holds competitions, and awards medals.
What is an esport? The next evolution in sporting competition. Esports are here to stay. Pick up a game, practice your skills, and find a competition.