Wikipedia defines eSports as eSports (also known as electronic sports, esports, e-sports, competitive (video) gaming, professional (video) gaming, or pro gaming) are a form of competition that is facilitated by electronic systems, particularly video games; the input of players and teams as well as the output of the eSports system are mediated by human-computer interfaces. These video games are often multiplayer, played with other human players over the Local Area Network or over the Internet, and require skill and decision making, both often being required to react to rapidly changing situations happening on the screen in mere milliseconds.
You may be wondering what good a video game can do for a professional career, and you would be wrong. During the ultimate DoTA 2 championship, The International 5, in 2015, the team Evil Geniuses took home 6 million dollars becoming the first American team to win the major DoTA title. Much like America, the team itself was very multi-cultural, consisting of Clinton ‘FEAR’ Loomis, the grand old man of DoTA, a 28 year old legend and veteran of DoTA, Saahil ‘Universe’ Arora, an Indian American 27 year old who’s single move is seen as the difference in pivoting their team to victory, and Pakistani born young man Syed Sumail Hassan, who was all of 15 when he was a part of the winning squad, the 17 year old today is one of the most feared players of the game. Together, they won a grand total of 6 million dollars, and they did it playing a video game.
Growth and eSports
It’s safe to say that eSports will grow and continue to grow in the foreseeable future. Even UTV boss and producer Ronnie Screwvala wants in on the action, and is funding a Rs. 100 crore project on eSports, calling the event USports where teams like IPL franchises will be formed and auctioned after the first two seasons are over. Screwvala is also in talks with Indian television networks to telecast games every day for two hours, and if it goes through, it’ll be a massive boost to the Indian eSports scene, which was left in it’s infancy because of the lack of proper internet infrastructure in the country. eSports tournaments have existed for quite some time now, the first ever was held by Atari way back in 1980 where players pitted their skill in Space Invaders against each other for the grand prize. What Atari probably knew was that they were setting a precedent for a whole new sport, but I have my doubts on whether even they knew how big of a name eSports would become as the years passed.
The spike in viewership numbers after 2010 is attributed to the fact that DoTA was being pushed by Valve as their next big eSport hit and it worked, today DoTA is one of the biggest eSports in the world, followed closely by favourites like Counter Strike: Global Offensive and League of Legends. These games, combined by the old-school games like Street Fighter, are the highest viewed eSports in the world, and while Street Fighter has always been popular with viewers, the market for it has been niche and with acceptance of eSports into the mainstream, their popularity is only going to go up.
So no, next time someone tells you playing video games is a waste of time, show them this. We here at IACG encourage gaming and eSports among our students and recognize the immense potential video games hold over becoming an actual recognized sport tomorrow, like Chess. We might even see eSports at the Olympics one day.