So what exactly is e-sports? Well, as the picture above states, it is at its core a term that encompasses the act of playing games competitively.
Now, in a broad sense, this explanation really applies to any game with a competitive aspect where players are pit against one another in a competitive setting, much like any other sport in the world. However, unlike other sports, where athletes compete through a physical medium, e-sports takes place through a virtual one.
However, for the sake of keeping this topic accessible, I have chosen to focus more on the emerging market of organized and professional e-sports. And yes, I did mean “professional” as it has be fairly commonplace for the top players of some games to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars a year competing against one another.
Wait a second you are probably thinking, did I really just read that people are making in excess of six figures a year playing video games? Yes, Yes you did.
However, this explosion in potential salary for competitive progammers has only recently occurred, and is almost completely related to improvements in internet streaming capabilities and accessibility.
What exactly do I mean by that?
Well, for the longest time, whenever someone tried to monetize e-sports, they tended to fail due to lack of funding. Unlike traditional sports that have television as a broadcast medium and advertising dollars to pay the athletes, athletes competing in e-sports tended to be restricted by not being able to show their competitions live and not being able to generate ad revenue.
This all changed however with the advent of live streaming media, whereby someone could all of the sudden turn on a webcam and broadcast whatever they wanted in real-time over the internet. Kind of like having your own private T.V. station. As the medium became more and more accessible it quickly became the go-too medium for e-sports globally. Then of course, it was only a matter of time before advertisers saw the potential untapped markets in the thousands of viewers tuning in to watch these live events, and began to implement ads for streams. Which is probably the most monumental thing to happen to e-sports since its inception, as it finally gave organizers and competitors a means to generate income and truly be considered “Professionals” for the first time.
Now, it would still be foolish to compare the popularity of e-sports to real sports, but it would also be foolish not to recognize the incredible growth this emerging market has gone through in just a few years, largely due to popular streaming services such as: Own3d.tv and twitch.tv, which have attempted to create viable business models for content providers, such as professional gamers, a medium to monetize their broadcasts.
And with certain organizers’ events such as: MLG, Dreamhack, IPL and NASL drawing viewership in the hundreds of thousands, it comes as no surprise that many people who may have only considered videogames to be a hobby are now considering it for potential careers.
Now, before I start rambling and bore you all too much with the details, I am going to end this post, having achieved a cursory explanation of what e-sports is and how it has come to be. However, I am also going to include a couple links for those interested to some media I find represent the information I am trying to convey in a much more visceral format.