eSports – A Comic Relief to Some, Hours of Entertainment to Others

Let’s address the gaming industry’s elephant in the room – eSports. While it might sound silly to people not from the world of entertainment software, eSports’ popularity is rising with each passing day. Let’s take a brief look at where it is, and how it will grow.

Sport. Although the word might mean something different nowadays, its origins date back to 15th century. Back then, it meant „to distract from work“, a sort of a noun describing an activity that was done in order to relax, rest, to amuse oneself. But everything changed when the eSports nation attacked.

A group of peasants enjoying a game of football on the main square, 16th century
Peasants enjoying a game of football, roughly 16th century.

The word sports means something different nowadays: it is almost always tied to physical activity, includes competitiveness, but still preserves the „amusement“ aspect. There are dozens of types of sports, from football to beach volleyball or curling (whoever made the last one a sport deserves to step on a Lego).

The traditional attachment to a physical activity has become subject to criticism in the past decade or so. With the rise of software entertainment industry came a new type of sports: eSports. It hasn’t been an easy road – being a comic relief for traditional sports commentators, comedians, and the general public. Or commentators flat out stating that they’ll quit if they’re ever asked to cover them. But there are millions of fans all around the world who enjoy e-sports, be it either passively or actively. And they have a voice too.

We’re getting ahead of ourselves. If you don’t know what the word “eSports” means, its basically what you’re guessing – playing video games, competitively. And in this article, what we’ll try to do is to compare eSports to traditional sports, and figure out the similarities and differences. Regardless of your current views, keep a level head for the sake of all the geeks, nerds, and gamers out there.

eSports players focusing on a game

Amusement – How eSports brings joy to millions

Joy, happiness, and relaxation are most certainly the very reasons video games are even a thing. Why else would computer games exist, other than to amuse and provide entertainment to the player?

The original concept of sports was to provide entertainment, and the eSports industry is a clear example of this. Just have a look at the picture below, displaying thousands of spectators witnessing the League of Legends 2017 World Championships.

League of Legends 2017 World Championship

eSports is enjoyed by millions around the globe, not to mention the casual players of these computer games. With games such as League of Legends, Counter-Strike and Overwatch spearheading the eSports scene, we can only expect the market to keep growing. In 2017, League’s largest tournament’s, Worlds, final round attracted a whopping 60 million viewers. and Dota’s The International attracted over 5 million with a record-breaking $27 million prize pool. It’s attracted the attention of ‘traditional’ sports organizations, including the Olympic committee of Asia who has declared that e-sports will become a medal sport at the 2022 games.

Competitiveness – Perhaps more extreme than your usual game of football

Being competitive is at the core of almost every online multiplayer game. Be it either a MOBA or a FPS shooter, players are always pitched against each other, and the team with better coordination and skills wins. Some games depend more on the synergy of the players, while others rely on finesse of individuals. Be it as it may, there is much and more of competitiveness in online video games.

League of Legends - Legends will Rise video

Although it might not seem like it at first glance, tons of strategy go into team multiplayer games. Teams devise new and better ways to engage on certain maps, players hone their own skills, aiming, positioning and so much more. It’s not like an average player could step on a pedestal, put on a dress and play for an e-sports team. Hours and hours of training and gameplay of the chosen game precede players actually sitting up on the stage in those comfy chairs.

Physical activity – the difference

If you were looking forward to me attempting to justify eSports, saying that there is actually a lot of physical activity involved such as muscle memory etc., nice try. To be fair, eSports is demanding when it comes to your body, just not in the traditional way. Reactions of competitive players need to be faster than those of a jet pilot, and reflexes are trained via special programmes and excercises. However, you’re right – the traditional „move your body“ aspect is missing from e-sports.

2018 Overwatch League arena

Does walking up that small ramp count as physical excercise? 

But worry not, because what eSports players might miss out when it comes to physical, they compensate with the mind. These players are able to multitask better than a woman (yes, men multitasking better than women! The future is now!), and their eyesight is trained to spot even the smallest movements on screen.

To conclude, eSports is a niche – it has certain aspects of the more traditional version of it, yet lacks the physical movement aspect. However, there must be something more to this than just a bunch of geeks, don’t you think? These competitions fill up stadiums and shake fans‘ feelings the same way a Barcelona vs. Madrid match shakes the feelings of football enthusiasts.

Fans enjoying an Overwatch League match, 2018

One thing’s for certain – Overwatch League, League of Legends, and others are on their way somewhere, and there’s no stopping them. Gamers around the world don’t care if others don’t recognise eSports as a discipline, and in time, perhaps others will see that it’s something more. Check out the video below carrying the same message.

Eager to read more about video games, movies, and TV series? Check out other articles by Martin Hlousek here!

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