Electronic sports are a thing, get used to it
Published: Sunday, February 17, 2013
Updated: Sunday, February 17, 2013 23:02
Something I’ve known has existed for a long time, but many still don’t, is a fully competitive and profitable video gaming league known as eSports. This sounds ridiculous to many, but thanks to advancements in technology, it is only going to become more prevalent.
Every day you can turn on the television and find competitive matches going on for football, basketball, soccer, as well as many other — sometimes obscure — sports. What many don’t know is on the G4 channel, you can find a competitive video game tournament, where the winners are usually making money. In South Korea there are at least three of these channels.
If this sounds crazy to you, you might find it crazier that these tournaments have been around for decades.
In a documentary titled, “King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters,” viewers follow a competitive community of Donkey Kong players in arcades. In the 1980s, the best of the best would compete for top scores on their favorite arcade games, sometimes flying across the world in order to compete live for the chance to go down in history books.
This evolved into the ‘90s, when groups like the Electronic Sports World Cup (ESWC) and the World Cyber Games (WCG) were created, bringing gamers from all across the world together to compete for money and prizes in their favorite video games. I was actually one of these competitors for years.
Back then, first place would often be a prize of $500 to $1,000, awarded to a competitor who was victorious over the best players from all over the world. In our decade, there are tournaments with prizes up to $1 million.
A computer game called “Defense of the Ancients 2” has a yearly tournament titled “The Invitational,” hosted by the creators of the game. This competition lasts three days, with teams of five players from all over the world, playing match after match while professional commentators discuss each game as it’s happening on a giant screen in a stadium filled with thousands of people. In between each game, other professionals spend time analyzing and criticizing what happened just minutes before.
Riot Games created another game titled “League of Legends,” starting its own league, with 16 teams of five players being housed for free, and paid a $100,000 salary to practice and play the game in live matches watched my millions on the internet — for free.
“Starcraft 2,” successor to the original, which overtook South Korea by storm in the late ‘90s, has hundreds of tournaments every year, with prizes ranging from $50 to $100,000.
If you’re reading all of this in disbelief, these are just a few examples of dozens of computer and console games played daily in a competitive fashion for money and prizes. As time goes on, there are going to be even more tournaments with larger prize pools.
Now that all of this has taken off, with no signs of slowing down, the issue brought up is whether these competitors should be considered athletes. John D. Sutter, a columnist for CNN, posed the question on their website, and nearly 1,000 replies have been posted both for and against this consideration.
I won’t argue one way or the other, but I will say the industries we currently recognize as athletic and the eSports industry are more symmetrical than most realize. Both have players, teams, sponsors, contracts, commentators, live stadiums, distant viewers and even trophies.
If the idea of people making money by getting good at video games bothers you, I recommend doing whatever you need to in order to get used to it — it’s not going away.
Alexander Vervloet is a senior in communications. The opinions expressed in his columns do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Barometer staff. Vervloet can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Rantsweekly.