When you think of playing a sport, what is the first thought that comes to your mind?
Playing pick-up basketball at the b-ball court, gathering a band of friends together to play some tackle football at the field, hitting baseballs out the park of a sandlot, trading blows with another gloved up competitor in the boxing ring, the list goes on and on. All are good examples of what sports are all about. But now the word continues to evolve as time and technology progresses. The young and rapidly growing “esports” is defined as a multiplayer gaming competition spectated by a crowd, typically involving professional gamers. To think just 10 – 15 years ago you’d hear parents telling kids to get off their gaming system because it is very unlikely to make a job out of it, well nowadays you see many people and organizations streaming live gameplay individually, cooperatively, or competitively and being compensated for doing so. With the aid of the TwitchTV game streaming services and television ratings, esports continues to grow in popularity to the point of professional sport teams creating their own esports team of professional gamer to go against other teams across the country, and exclusive esports arenas are being development in multiple states within the US to harbor the ever-increasing number of electronic sports fans.
Back before esports was ever coined as a term, there existed gaming competitions and tournaments where game companies organized competitive events for the best game players of their time to battle it out to see who was #1. The first nationally recognized tournament took place at New York City in 1980 by Atari and was popular enough to generate over 10,000 participants, with regional events taking place in New York City, San Fransisco, San Antonio, Fort Worth, Chicago, and Los Angeles (Credit information to ausretrogamer.com). What is the name of the game contestants were competing for the “high score” in you ask? Well non other than one of the most widely known retro space games of all time, consisting of a space “battle ship” facing off against an array of invading alien forces that continue to press closer and closer, until either the “battle ship” destroys the wave of aliens, the alien forces destroys the “battle ship” a set number of times, or the wave of aliens break through the defenses of the “battle ship”. If you are still unaware of the game being described, let me introduce you to “Space Invaders!!!”. With television coverage, a crowd of spectators and a prize for the victor, you can technically consider this event the first major esports competition.
Atari Space Invaders Tournament 1980 – Source: http://www.ausretrogamer.com/tag/1980s-gaming-tournaments/
Currently in the Esports era
The coverage on gaming continues to grow as computer technology and internet capabilities became more accessible in areas where they were once inaccessible, which in result gives those areas the ability to watch tournaments live on Twitch or any other game streaming service (But most people know Twitch is the biggest game streaming service) and that’s not including television coverage of popular video game tournaments that gives the esports industry more publicity. According to Forbes esports is estimated to generate an annual revenue of more than 905 million dollars in 2018 which is a 38% increase from 2017’s 655 million dollars. The NBA’s most dominant team of this era, the “Golden State Warriors” thought it important to spend millions building an esports team known as the “Golden Guardians” to compete in a North American League of Legends Championship because they understand the power this young industry is pulling from year to year and they want to learn how to acquire money from it (I personally see this as a smart business move). Electronic sports is growing so big that there are talks of esports competitions becoming events in the Olympics, which is kind of surprising to me, but that is how popular esports is becoming.
Not a Sports Arena, an Esports Arena!!!
As esports continues to grow in popularity, the enclosed areas that hold them have to multiply. The first dedicated electronic sports arena was built in Downtown Orange County, California and is known as the “Esports Arena”. This 15,000 square foot facility was launched in 2015 to hold large or small scale esports and entertainment events ( Information credited to https://www.esportsarena.com). California has another esports arena built in Oakland, and will probably have more being built in the future as the industry grows.
Inside Las Vegas Esports arena – Source: https://www.esportsarenavegas.com (Click Picture to be directed to esportsarenavegas.com)
The Vegas strip has opened up it’s first esports arena with cutting-edge technology designed to attract both gamer and non-gamer with an interest in the growing industry. The arena is a 30,000 square foot facility, (Yes, Double the size of the first esports arena!!!) with a multi-level arena, the ability to host every type of competitive gaming event, and spectators will be watching the action on a 50-foot LED video wall. Also, gamers can enjoy a variety of gaming experiences from retro game consoles to virtual reality platforms and you can pick delicious meals from a menu made by world-renown chef “Jose Andres” when your belly starts talking ( Information credited to https://www.esportsarenavegas.com). Though this arena may be young, you can be sure that it will hold many events so long as esports continues to rise in popularity.
Artist portrayal of the Arlington, TX soon to be Esports arena. Source: http://www.arlington-tx.gov (Click Photo to be directed to http://www.arlington-tx.gov )
When the people of Texas say, “Everything is bigger in Texas”, they really weren’t kidding!!! This new esports arena in Arlington will be 100,000 square feet, which is crazy to think about since the newest arena in Vegas is only 30,000 sq ft. The city of Arlington and Esports Venues, LLC, have plans to invest 10 million dollars to transform their Convention Center into a new-age electronic sports stadium, with hopes of it becoming the center of the esports world (Information credited to http://www.arlington-tx.gov). With plans to open up in the fall, the debut for this enormous entertainment center will be one to remember.
Twitch has Reshaped the Gaming and Esports Industry!
Twitch.tv is the live game streaming service known for bringing esports and gaming in general to higher levels than ever before. In 2011 Twitch started off as a spin-off of JustinTv, which was a live stream broadcasting website made in 2007, but Twitch was to focus on gaming streams only, to prevent the main site from being overwhelmed. This proved to be a successful action as the popularity of Twitch grew very quickly and lead to Amazon buying it out for around $1 billion in 2014 (information credited to http://www.alistdaily.com). If you question whether Twitch had a dramatic effect on the popularity of esports, just examine the difference in total tournament prize money from the year prior to twitch being live (2010) with the year Twitch was brought out to the public (2011), you’ll see the total tournament prize money and total number of tournaments nearly double and every year after the total prize money continued to increase. By 2017 esports had a record high $112,728,337.18 in total tournament prize money given away, becoming the first year when esports had given out a total over $100,000,000 in prize money (Want an in-depth look at the annual stats? Check out https://www.esportsearnings.com/history).
Esports has come a long way from when it first started, from an improbable career to a lucrative soon to be “billion dollar industry”. With more esports arenas being made to hold the rapidly growing population of supporters, and live coverage of popular gaming competitions and tournaments through TwitchTV, Television and other streaming sites, the potential growth of the electronic sports industry seems to have no limit due to it’s accessibility through the “World Wide Web”. My only question would be, “Where will esports be spotted in the ranks of popular sports in 2028?” But to be honest, it may only take 5 years for esports to start matching up with the top leading sports organizations!!!
P.S. If you are still interested in getting more information on the growth of esports, or maybe you’re planning on making a career out of it, make a purchase of “The Modern Nerd’s Guide To Esports” to get ahead of others with the same idea. (Click image to be directed to Amazon for purchase)