What Are eSports?
June 22, 2015 | By Hector
As gaming continues to take the world by storm, it is starting to enter bold new directions. First it surpassed Hollywood as the biggest media market, with games offering incredible cinematic, narrative, and graphical capabilities that rivaled television and film. Now gaming has become a sport in itself, with professional gamers akin to athletes and tournaments that draw millions of spectators.
This fascinating new trend is commonly known as eSports – short for electronic sports – and is also called competitive gaming. It consists of competitions involving a large number of players in organized multiplayer campaigns. Though e-sports have a long history in the gaming community – starting in 1980 with the Space Invaders Championship held by Atari – it has exploded in recent years thanks to better and more widespread Internet access and a varied selection of challenging multiplayer games.
eSports span a wide variety of genres, including real-time strategy, fighting, first-person shooters, and multiplayer online battle arena. Among the most popular games for Dota 2, Call of Duty, Counter Strike, League of Legends, StarCraft II. These and other games are featured in such widely viewed tournaments as the League of Legends World Championship, The International Dota 2 Championships, Battle.net World Championship Series, the Evolution Championship Series, and the Intel Extreme Masters.
While competitions at the turn of the 21st century were largely between amateurs, the growth in both professional competitions and viewership has led to a significant number of professional players and teams. Many video game developers have gone as far as to build features into their games that are designed to accommodate competition.
In fact, competitive gaming has become so big, that even ESPN is getting involved: in 2014, it broadcasted The International 4, marking the first time a mainstream channel has given attention to an eSports event. The availability of online video streaming platforms, such as Twitch.tv, is further boosting the ratings: as of 2013, there were over 71.5 million competitive gaming spectators, and it has only grown more since. While the U.S., South Korea, Canada, and China remain the biggest markets, eSports continue to grow into a worldwide phenomenon, with competitors and viewers alike coming from many countries.
As PCs grow more powerful and Internet access proliferates across the world, it is likely that the world of eSports will only continue to grow in its sophistication and popularity.
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