Is just being able to compete against others for money what makes something a sport? In some cases, but that would probably be more the definition of a “tournament. ” Other things needed would be leagues for the division of the skills of each player, a rules basis so that there is no cheating, and definitely a player base as well as fan base. Eventually eSports will become one of the next big televised events all over the world. It’s already gaining stardom in other parts of the world than the United States, but eventually it’ll catch on here too.
Just as with the sports on the big television downstairs in the living room, such as soccer, basketball, football, softball, baseball, and tennis, eSports has a very large following of people and fans. Leah Jackson talks about how in its earlier days eSports only had a major following in Korea, but today it is spread throughout many countries in the world, including the U. S. Jackson goes on to say that a single tournament held in Sweden, known as Dreamhack, sported a healthy base of 900,000 unique viewers tuned in via web streams as well as physically being where the tournament was held (Jackson).
Not only this however, but just regular play on the game not even having to do with a tournament that is then “Shout Casted” and uploaded on YouTube can receive as many as a few million views within a week to two. The sport varies depending on the fact that “eSports” doesn’t just include one game with one set of rules. It spans multiple genres of games that many different viewers enjoy; each in their own way. With each different game brings a different amount of viewers, generally depending on how popular or well the game was developed.
That in itself is probably another helping factor with the industry’s growth. With more games being developed monthly, it only expands the likeliness of someone else’s interest being peaked, attracting even more followers. As the amount of followers increases, so too does the likeliness that it will be more widely accepted as a true Sport and gain even more financial support, even more so than it does now. Yi-Wyn Yen from Sports Illustrated has said that if and when media starts getting more involved in eSports, then that’s when it’ll truly become a sport that can be taken seriously (qtd. n Goodale 3). With video games becoming ever more popular it’s more likely that eSports will gain an even bigger following than it already has, leading it further onto the stage with other big sports. Already there are tournaments held all over the world as well as there being organizations that help to fund and host these tournaments. One of the more popular “F2P,” or free to play and download competitive games that hold such of these tournaments known as “League of Legends” has a healthy player base of thirty-two and a half million individual players. Ryze,” as the forum poster’s name was, reports that on a monthly basis they have an average of eleven and a half million players having played at least one game and daily they have an average of four and a fifth million players having played at least one game. Their “Season One” championship tournament just ended a few weeks ago having 1,690,000 viewers with 210,000 being the peak of amount of viewers at one time (Riot Games). In Korea, annually a tournament for a game called “Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty” is held which lasts for an entire month.
Players must train endlessly for this tournament and then they have to be able to compete for a month’s time, meaning that they need to be in some kind of a decent physical condition on top of mentally prepared. The end prize is 100,000,000 Korean Won or $93,000 USD for first place (Jackson). Players that compete and do well in this tournament not only make a sizeable increase in their bank account but they also make a name for themselves. In South Korea there are three full-time video game television networks bringing it into the limelight just as much as football is in the U.
S. proving that according to Yen’s point of view from Sports Illustrated eSports can become a major accepted sport just due to the amount of people paying attention and watching it. Popular physical sports have another thing that help to keep them a sport in the sense that the play is fair, leagues and divisions. Just as with the sports played on a large field in the middle of a stadium eSports has different divisions, mostly just split between Amateur and Professional.
Different games have different ranking systems as well as division systems however that help to split the two even more so that they can compete well. Popular game such as: ”World of Warcraft,” “Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty,” “League of Legends,” and “Counterstrike: Source” use a system called “ELO” which is a mathematical system developed by “Arpad Elo” that determines how skilled a player is. This system was taken by many gaming companies and incorporated into their player versus player systems to better match their players against each other and provide a balanced sport.
One of the major problems with eSports however is pointed out by Rob Correa, which is “How do you make watching the television show fun for the viewer who’s not actually playing the game? ” (qtd. in Schiesel). Games were designed to be played, not to be watched and viewed as a sport, turning Correa’s statement into a very good question. However, many people online have already broken this boundary by doing the same thing a real sport does: introduce a caster. Video gaming’s “Shout Casters” do every bit of what it sounds like they would do; they shout and call out everything going on in the game.
They make it very exciting as can be seen by popular casters for “Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty” such as “HuskyStarcraft,” “Day9,” “Ahnaris,” and “PsyStarcraft” all who make a living off of casting their games. So in truth, while Correa’s question is a strong argument against making eSports into a sport that can be televised like the others, it is definitely not a deal breaker with people already overcoming it. What are the exact criteria for a sport to be considered a true sport?