The amount of video game use that we see in society today is possibly inescapable. Mobile games like; Candy Crush, Game of War or Clash of Clans, they record daily revenue in the millions, and someone will surely recognize one, if not all, of these game names. This exposure to gaming in the light of every day seems to be ushering in a new and invisible era in gaming, where gaming could be seen as a sport.
Since the first two people started “Pong” on the Atari 2600, the games have been competitive. When you think about it, playing a soccer game and playing a video game are not that different. The goal is always to win the game, but the level of competition and the players in the game can vary. Growing up, I played Call of Duty at a fairly competitive level, but had no idea how big the competitive gaming industry was going to get. The growth of this industry can be attributed to several factors. The financial growth in the gaming industry has been incredible. The recent stance that “nerdy culture” has taken in popular media through outlets like The Big Bang Theory. The momentum of people who really enjoy video game culture and want to see it take center stage has brought games into the everyday lives of the general public.
So what is causing video games to become a source of entertainment that people watch from home as they would soccer or football? The answers may surprise you. In July 2014, teams from around the world played “Defense of the Ancients” or DOTA for a community jackpot totaling $ 10,923,980. Teams of five would play against each other and eliminate the competition as they progressed to the grand finale and the ultimate first place prize. While this was the fourth such tournament hosted by the game creators, it was the first time it was televised on ESPN 3. ESPN was very pleased with the results of the coverage they agreed to follow up on next year. It’s crazy to think that in the next few years we will see video game coverage on Sports Center. Unlike ESPN, which only shows you content about competitive games during big tournaments, the broadcast is available all the time. Twitch TV is the main website that comes to mind. Streaming sites allow content creators to show what’s happening live on their computers to audiences who can join the conversation with a group chat feature while watching their favorite players / players play live. The potential for growth through an avenue like this is enormous. Just think, you could watch a TV show and chat with other fans of the show around the world with great ease, all while being able to communicate with content creators.
We know what brings games to the field of sports, but what keeps them out? Well, this is not the time for electronic sports (E-Sports) to become a household name, at least not in the United States. South Korea may be an example of things to come in terms of esports in the United States. Say the name “Star Craft” and nine times out of ten, a Korean will know what you mean. The Star Craft game is practically a national pastime of South Korea. The game appears on cable television and even in some applications offered by Microsoft’s Xbox, which is a direct competitor to the PC gaming market to which Star Craft belongs. Players in Korea are treated like celebrities, signing autographs, taking photos with fans, and appearing on talk shows from time to time. Now if I were to say this to the average American, the answer would most likely be “Are you serious?” Is it so important there? “Yes, esports in Korea and to a lesser degree China and Japan are already booming industries. So why hasn’t gaming already become a big industry in the United States where most of these A’s? Americans like different games than Asians. Americans like fast shooter games like Call of Duty or Counter Strike, while Asians tend to prefer strategic games like Star Craft or DOTA. shooters is that less strategy is involved. Think of the two genders as an approach to a game of football. While both genders have a well-defined goal, as in soccer, strategic games present ways of countering the movements of other players or their choice of how to advance towards their goal through technology or character choices. In football, if the defense sends a blitz, you try to counter that blitz lead giving the ball to a wide receiver, or running the ball in the opposite direction to the blitz. There is no correct way to approach defense strategy, and the offense can still make decisions about how to approach the situation. The same cannot be said for shooters, there is simply not enough depth to the game to give viewers new ideas on how they can apply the techniques used by the pros in their own game.
Professional gaming is on its way to becoming a true sport in the United States. With ESPN broadcast times and by popularizing the games in everyday life five to ten years from now, we could see a good chunk of people walking around in E-sport team jerseys. Due to gaming trends in the US, radical changes to the game are likely to be required to keep viewers watching and to get the public more interested, but it is doable. It will take the work of dedicated sports fans to push the games into the public eye, but from what we’ve seen in recent years, it’s clear that the games will be considered a sport for the near future.