By William Moriarty
SAN ANTONIO, TX—Move over football there’s a new favorite in town, the world’s fast-growing sport is live video gaming. Esports, consist of a variety of video games, all of which require nimble fingers and quick reactions to succeed. As with traditional sports, fans follow teams, watch matches and attend finals.
The most common games involved in esports, are first person shooters, real-time strategy, multiplayer online battle arena and fighting games, though of these the NFL genre is least likely to continue to expand as interest from the general community is straying from the massive publicity that other more team based experiences are embracing.
Esports found its beginnings in the late 2000s, with amateur tournaments with rapidly rising prize pools, as the games and technology expanded so did global interest in these competitions.
There is a great deal of contention on whether or not esports can be designated as “professional,” and many proponents of traditional sports turn their noses up at the idea of individuals being called “athletes” for sitting behind a screen. Esports, despite the seemingly insurmountable gap between it and the more mainstream physical sports, does have a striking amount of similarity in culture. Be it the ever-present favoritism of one team over another, or the fervent obsession with an individual player, there is and will be an interest in seeing skilled professionals demonstrate their aptitude against other experts with well-honed strategy and reflexes.
Beyond the cultural impact of esports, there is a distinct financial component to be noted, as there are now various million-dollar prize pools to be won by the best players. Furthermore, all players in the Overwatch World League are provided $50 thousand in salary, and up to $3.5 million in bonuses in addition to health care, retirement funds and housing during the active seasons.
Esports financial stability is found in much the same manner as general sports, as most fans follow brand loyalty with their teams and players and advertisements being a large portion of revenue. Additional revenue comes from direct purchases in the microtransaction model, nearly universal to all popular esports titles. Cosmetic purchases contribute directly to the prize pool of the championships, with ticket sales to the live showings of competitions adding to revenues.
Esports also contributes to other parts of the economy with the chronic health issues related with the continued playing of video games. Neck wrist and back issues are prevalent in many professionals because of postur, leading to more demand for general practitioners and specialists in health care fields. The rise in white collar job opportunities related to esports is far-reaching, with Data Analysts forming strategies for pros based off patterns observed in high stakes matches, and Lawyers and Agents offering their services to this new class of professionals.
For esports’ wide appeal to continue to grow there needs to be generalized cultural acceptance of the gamer culture. With esports determined acceptance of marginalized groups, esports will continue to exponentially grow and take a great place of cultural relevance.