Today, we live in a world where information makes the world go round. People live off Internet connections and are controlled by their devices. This changed the way we communicate — from writing letters to our loved ones about how our week went by to tweeting play by play from live games. It wasn’t too long before esports took center stage and since then it has been polarizing our society.
On the surface it shouldn’t be considered a sport since by definition, sports is “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against one another or others for entertainment,” and that’s not what sitting on a chair behind a computer portrays. It doesn’t require athletic ability like running, jumping, or throwing. Although let’s face it, esports has been growing fast worldwide, that it has now professional and collegiate versions.
Over the years, professional gaming changed drastically where now there are a number of different events, leagues and world tournaments staged. Just looking at Dota 2’s The International where the prize pool is (as I write this article) at $24,787,916. This will eventually be distributed to the winners where the champion team will get $10,862,683, $3,950,067 for the second place winner, and even $61,720 for the eighteenth place team. In addition to this, there are other big leagues like the League of Legends World Championship and Overwatch World Cup.
Five years ago, no one would ever think that one could get a college grants from playing video games very well. Today, some schools in the US like University of California, Irvine, Georgia State University, and University of Utah are getting involved in esports. Tespa, organizer of the Heroes of the Dorm competitions, has been creating programs geared toward generating more scholarships for student gamers and participation from more universities. They have setup new leagues, which now include competitions in Overwatch, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, StarCraft II, World of Warcraft and Rocket League. They also generated more than $800,000 for scholarships $200,000 for prizes.
Along with these developments, the industry has been integrating traditional roles into its mix. For example, we now know of physical therapists being employed for esport teams. Another example is how Nielsen, a global information, data, and measurement company, is launching a new division providing services to the esports business, like measuring the value of esports sponsorships.
When we talk about the rise of the gaming industry, one can’t simply miss the conversation about adding esports in the Olympics. There has been a buzz of how the International Olympic Committee is on the clock discussing whether or not they will introduce esports, or if they would even recognize it as a sport. Some people think its outrageous going back to the arguments that by tradition and definition, it is not a sport. Other people think it’s unnecessary, since having esports in the Olympics is a way of legitimizing it as a sport and on its own esports has grown much around the world.
With all these in mind, do you now think Internet gaming is a real sport?