I stumbled across a video the other day about how online gaming has become huge. Tremendous to be exact. And how all these online games are considered athletes just like your “ordinary” Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Stephen Curry and Lebron James! This group of games is called eSports and the numbers of fans that follow them, or the prizes that are in stake in each tournament are fascinating to say the least.
eSports can be defined as as a form of sports where the primary aspects of the sport are facilitated by electronic systems; the input of players and teams as well as the output of the eSports system are mediated by human-computer interfaces. This phenomenon has grown exponentially during the last part of the previous decade and has now reached heights that are too impressive even for the magnitude of the NBA!
According to Wikipedia: In 2015, the most successful titles featured in professional competition were the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games Dota 2, League of Legends, and the first person shooter game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Other games with significant earnings include Smite, Starcraft 2, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Heroes of the Storm, and Hearthstone.
Wow! I mean, wooooow! I grew up within the mass expansion of gaming. I was within the generation that rushed to buy the GameBoy or the first Nintendo and Sega consoles. I spent-invested-wasted hours and hours of play albeit not in an online community of any major blockbuster gaming title that came out from 1993 to 2003 more or less. Then I stopped cause reality kicked in, like postgraduate studies, work, life, a PhD, etc. There was another reason for my abstence which had to do with my temper when I played lots of hours and then suddenly lost. I had the tendency to break stuff, mainly games and my consoles, so I protected my nerves and those of my parents and brother by stopping.
That decision ended my potential as an e-athlete, or an e-champion right there and then. But these guys are living the dream! I mean, they become champions in games that are considered a sport. And how can they not be? I mean, it takes many of the skills that traditional, physical sports require. It takes the same if not more hours of practice and it has the same if not even bigger audiences. Some would argue that these games take an even higher level of skill and practice and mental abilities than other sports.
Of course there are those that would stomp their foot on the ground and say that this is non-sense, but this is always the easy thing to do. Isn’t this sports? I think it is and I think that the argument that sports is only basketball and other related sports, is just stupid. Whatever your definition of sports, if you take in the mathletes, if you take in chess, darn, if you take in archery, you probably have to take in the gaming part! And most of all, what is fascinating is how this digital civilization is expanding. It’s not like you have only the digital part that gets the job done and nothing else. From the time we went digital, slowly but steadily, the digital culture is also expanding. Just like the development and rise of the physical and material world brought about all the other physical things like organized sports, etc., in the same sense, the digital counterpart brings its own legacy to the larger image, and part of this legacy are its e-champions.
The other day I saw a piece on races for drones. I was amazed by the kind of skill it takes to simply fly the thing around the course, let alone to do it in the shortest time possible. It’s the same kind of sport. And the data that will come out of these games, along with the services and businesses that will be developed to support all this are mind-blowing. In Greece I don’t know. I mean, we play like crazy but I am not sure that there’s the market there just yet. But in other countries and globally, this new thing will probably change a lot. Imagine journalists that cover these events that are experts on gaming, imagine dedicated news channels and more. And if you find it that hard to believe, check out the level of professionalism that goes into games these days, making them more sophisticated than movies in many cases, with their own soundtrack, producer, actors, scenario, etc.
It’s a heck of an era to live in, isn’t it??? 😉