Gaming goes professional
BY ALEX BALLARD NOVEMBER 25, 2014
Gaming is a passion of mine, as evidenced by two of my articles this year. Video games have always been a source of entertainment for me. The enticement of the stories, the feeling of being in a different world and the need to beat a level just one more time have all been a part of my life-long adoration of video games. However, nothing beats the feeling of kicking back with your friends and facing each other off in epic battles that only the world of video games could make possible. It is that very feeling that has led to the birth of esports.
Esports, or electronic sports, are the result of many gamers around the world all wanting to prove that they are the best at their respective games. Much like other sports, these competitors prove their skills through matches, tournaments and championships, and their fanbase has slowly been increasing over the years.
Free-to-play games like “League of Legends” and “Dota 2” have been leading the pack of the ever growing esports with “League,” boasting 67 million players monthly, being the largest on the professional gaming scene. Instead of being on ESPN like other sport competitions, fans of “League” will have to watch the tournaments on the free streaming service known as Twitch. Even for non-professional players, streaming on Twitch is a viable career option. The popular streamers on Twitch, such as Trick2g or Sirhcez, can make upwards of $90,000 a year off of streaming alone. Despite it being a lucrative business, the ability of viewers to watch and follow competitions for free has been a large contributing factor of its popularity.
There has been thorough debate amongst the sport community on whether or not esports are in fact sports. ESPN president John Skipper made recent statements that esports are “not a sport;” however, ESPN has begun writing articles and offering videos of events on their site. It seems like ESPN is trying to play both sides by catering to the sport “purists” as well as cashing in on the what-would-be lucrative business.
Personally, I fall under the side of the supporters. Merriam-Webster defines a sport as “a contest or game in which people do certain physical activities according to a specific set of rules and compete against each other.” Whether thoroughly clicking keys while quickly swiping a mouse counts as a “physical activity” is up for debate, but if you ever see a professional gamer in action, I think your point of view will change quite quickly. Just as basketball fans marvel at the ability of a player to make every single free throw, a fan of “League” may be blown away at the ability of a player to successfully pull off a Baron Nashor smite steal.