ESports are getting more popular in today’s society

Video games have become more popular over time. Now, playing video games for a living has also become a possibility.

“I love how it has become an acceptable sport within the community and there is no negative stigma attached to the game anymore,” says Sarah Wagg, the president of LAN War at Durham College and UOIT.

An eSport is a competition centered on video games. Any video game played competitively can be considered an eSport. This covers games anywhere between League of Legends and Super Smash Bros. ESports don’t even need to be multiplayer. Players can compete to see who can finish a single player game faster.

ESports started in the early 80s and 90s. The first organized eSports tournament was held by Atari in 1980. The tournament featured the game Space Invader and got more than 10,000 participants. Other tournaments where held by Nintendo and Blockbuster. But it wasn’t until the rise of PC gaming and the internet that eSports took flight.

Michael Comlekci, a member of the Durham College and UOIT eSports team, says that what really attracts people to eSports is its competitive nature, much the same as more traditional sports.

The PC brought to the world of eSports the competitive nature in the game Quake developed by Id Software. Quake brought multiplayer with many players playing at once. Quake made its eSport debut in the Red Annihilation tournament in 1997.  In 1998 StarCraft, by Blizzard Entertainment was released, and the world of eSports was introduced to its most influential, the real time strategy game.

It was hugely popular, but it lead to an even bigger genre. The Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, or MOBA, genre was made popular by the mod Defense of the Ancients, or DOTA for Warcraft III also made by Blizzard Interactive.

The biggest change in eSports has been the tournaments, says Comlekci. There are many eSports tournaments that happen frequently. At Durham College and UOIT, there is the LAN War tournament once a semester. Some of the largest tournaments are The International, for Dota 2, and LCS, for League of Legends. ESports tournaments started out as more casual events, like LAN War. Comlekci says tournaments such as The International are much bigger and have a larger production value than tournaments did originally.

The thing that stands out about eSports in many people’s minds is the community. Comlekci said the community is generally young men from ages 14 to 25. Wagg describes the community as toxic. Comlekci says is can get “so bad” is because of the range in ages of the players.

The largest prize pool for an eSports tournament is The International 2015, for Dota 2, where the prize pool reached $18 million. The second largest was the same tournament in 2014 with a prize pool of $10 million.

Even with such a large prize pool, the players don’t get all of the money. A team of Dota players consists of five people. They also have to pay for all of their expenses sponsors don’t cover. They may also need other staff, such as a coach, to help them get better.

However, even with the expenses, Peter “ppd” Dager is the highest earner in eSports history with a total of just over $2 million in just four years.

Both Wagg and Comlekci agree that becoming a professional at eSports in difficult. Comlekci says “Everyone wants to become a professional athlete, whether its eSports or regular sports. The actual capability is pretty slim.”

The popularity of eSports has grown considerably since the turn of the century. The change has come due to the wide availably of eSports and their ability to connect people to together through the internet. And according to Sarah Wagg, the world of eSports is only going to get bigger.