What’s your favorite sports team? The Cleveland Cavaliers? New England Patriots? Have you ever heard someone respond to that question with Team SoloMid or Philadelphia Fusion? Probably not, but you might soon. The rise of eSports is here, thanks to the popularity of streaming platforms such as Twitch and YouTube. These streaming services allow for casual players to watch how the pros perform and learn tactics to implement into their own gameplay. Even ESPN has begun covering the world of eSports as it rises in popularity. In 2013, 23 million people streamed the final match of the annual League of Legends tournament, which is more than any game of the World Series being streamed that year. Due to its expanding popularity, large companies such as Audi and Coco-Cola have begun sponsoring professional eSports teams as well.
Competitions revolving around video games are nothing new. Back in 1980, Atari held a Space Invaders Championship that attracted more than 10,000 participants across the United States. You also may have heard of smaller Smash Brother, Tekken or Halo tournaments being hosted at local establishments with a small prize awarded for being victorious.
The rising popularity of eSports means game developers have particularly begun to embrace more of a competitive nature and tweak their multiplayer modes to be eSports ready. For instance, Overwatch, a popular shooter game, has competitive seasons that restart every few months. This is a ranked version of gameplay in which players stay on the same team for a full attack/defense rotation. Wins increase your score, and a loss will penalize you, regardless of how well you may have individually performed in the game.
In 2010, Nintendo hosted the Wii Games Summer that spanned over a month and included 400,000 participants. Both Blizzard and Riot Games have their own outreach players to connect top players and bring them to a professional level of gaming. Colleges and universities are even recognizing eSports players as athletes and are beginning to recruit and offer scholarships to top players in order to entice them to attend their particular campus.
Not only is the industry growing, but studies are showing that gaming, especially professional gaming, shows a correlation between one’s level of gaming ability and their cognitive ability. Studies done by Foundry10, a research firm dedicated to researching how people learn, confirm this: “We observed a significant relation between gaming experience and response time on the location memory task… Furthermore, our results extend previous gaming research that suggests that individual differences in gaming experience are correlated with the speed of recalling spatial information from long-term memory.” So, even though eSports is becoming a booming business for gaming and entertainment, researchers are also finding new reasons as to why gaming can be beneficial for your health, and acknowledging the necessary level of skill, concentration and dedication that it takes to becoming a professional player.
All in all, the world of eSports is growing quickly, and we at AVADirect don’t want anyone to be left behind. There are hundreds of ways to be a part of and get involved with eSports, starting with playing games at your home, to building a gaming PC, to logging on to Twitch, to watching some of the best gamers in the world compete in tournaments. Esports is something that will capture almost everyone’s attention and it’s not going away. Are you ready?