By Micah B., 6th Grade, Krieger Schechter Day School of Chizuk Amuno Congregation 

When someone mentions sports, people often think of football, soccer, and basketball, for example. But what about video games? In recent years, competitive gaming or esports has grown in popularity to reach monumental levels. 

Esports is a form of competition in which people play competitive games on any form of electronics to secure the highest score. There are many different types of esports because there are many different types of video games, including some of the more popular ones like League of Legends, Super Mario Brothers, and Defense of the Ancients 2 (Dota 2). 

In most esports competitions, people compete in teams to defeat other teams or to complete an objective. Players gaining increased skills and reaching a certain level of proficiency have access to tournaments and may be invited to exclusive on-site competitions in various parts of the country.  Players also have the option of contacting teams and applying to play with them, just as one would apply for a job.

According to Medium magazineesports started in 1972 at Stamford University in Connecticut with a tournament that featured the game Spacewar. Since then, this industry has ballooned to include almost 400 million users. The grand prize for this esports tournament back in 1972 was a year-long subscription to Rolling Stone magazine. 

In the 1980s, many companies started recording video game high scores and encouraging competitions online for games like Space Invaders and Pacman. This led to a widespread popularity of professional video game competitions. During the 1990s, esports was revolutionized with online video game competitions Super Mario Bros. and Sonic the Hedgehog 3, with major companies like Nintendo and Sony sponsoring esports tournaments.

In 1997, a worldwide “Red Annihilation” tournament was held by E3 with almost 2,000 participants with the grand prize being a Ferrari. The winner was American Dennis Fong. A few weeks later, Cyberathlete Professional League (CPL) was founded by Angel Munoz, which would be one of the first esports leagues in history. At the turn of the millennium, major international tournaments, like World Cyber Games and Electronic Sports World Cup, were launched, which held many different types of games. Then, in 2002, Major League Gaming (MLG) was founded, which today is the largest esports league and also awards the most money in its tournaments. 

According to the World Economic Forum (WFE), esports generates a significant amount of money. In 2019, the industry generated almost $1 billion, with $694 million coming from brand investment revenue, a staggering 38.2 percent revenue increase over 2018. Not only does the industry make a lot of money, but professional video game players earn large sums. Dota 2 player Kuro Taksomi earned $2.76 million, well in excess of the average $75,000 a year earned by most players. The main juggernauts of the esports industry are the United States and China, both generating 38 percent of esports revenue.

While there are many reasons to explain the success of the esports industry, video game enthusiast and eighth-grade Krieger Schechter Day School student Aaron M. believes that esports gained its popularity because it is “the most serious competitive gaming experience. It is like the NFL of online gaming.” 

According to Electronic Entertainment Design and Research, almost 67 percent of people in the U.S. have access to video games, and almost half of them are playing multiplayer games. With so many people having access to multiplayer video games, it is inevitable that they discover the world of professional multiplayer video games. Therefore, the multiplayer video games serve as a gateway into the world of esports. 

Former esports watcher and sixth-grade KSDS student Ezra R. has his own reasons for thinking esports is popular. “The videogames also just look cooler than something like baseball,” Ezra said. “They have bright, flashy lights, which make it really fun to watch.” 

According to Diggit Magazine, one of the driving forces behind the esports craze is competitiveness.The drive to be competitive has always been a part of human’s biological need to survive; however, as humans created increased connectivity and a lesser need for general survivability, this focus on competitiveness slowly switched from real life to athletic sports. 

When the video game industry skyrocketed in the late 20th century and into the 21st, a new kind of competitiveness took hold in the form of combative videogames. Aaron states that esports reveals that we have a “crippling need to be entertained.” Ezra insists that it reveals our laziness as humans because “making precise movements with your mouse shouldn’t take as long to train for as running 500m.”

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