The Internet has transformed the gaming landscape, and there is no turning back.
Reminiscing on the glory days of the Nintendo Entertainment System, which gained massive popularity in 1980s, it is hard for some gamers to imagine an offline experience. However, despite the limited technology that was available at the time, people still developed an obsession with videogames.
The web has given users access to a variety of games that are readily available at their fingertips. Since the Internet breathed new life into the gaming industry it has continued to evolve. One of the more recent trends is eSports, which has gained a faithful worldwide audience.
While eSports is a new concept for many, it actually has a history dating back several decades. The first recorded video game tournament took place at Stanford University in 1972, where participants competed in a Spacewar tournament. The winner received a free subscription to Rolling Stone Magazine.
In recent years, eSports has taken on an energy of its own, as enthusiasts rush to watch and participate. While spending hours watching other people play video games may have once seemed like a foreign concept to many, more than 15 million people tuned into Twitch.tv every day in 2018 to do just that. Twitch is an online platform that offers eSports content, tournaments and personal streams of individual players. In addition, it offers gaming-related talk shows.
All things considered, eSports is not going anywhere any time soon, and it is an interesting time in gaming history as the growing trend makes its way further into the mainstream. All eyes are on eSports as the industry continues to advance and unfold right in front of us.
Here are 6 of the most interesting eSports trends happening right now.
- Leagues are forming worldwide
In late 2019, Sri Lanka became the latest country to recognize eSports as an official sport (joining France, Finland, Kazakhstan and China). However, other countries have yet to catch on. Earlier in the year, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) voted not to govern collegiate eSports in America. Still, unofficial leagues are springing up all over the globe. Although some countries may show up late to the eSports party, many predict they will eventually follow suit by recognizing it as a serious competitive sport.
- eSports is creeping into all areas of education
You may have never seen it coming, but skilled eSports professionals are in demand. As such, many schools in the US and UK are offering degrees on the subject.
Shenandoah University in Virginia, Becker College in Massachusetts and The Ohio State University are among accredited institutions to launch eSports degrees in the United States, and those who enroll can expect to pay $36,000 or more for a degree.
American high schools, such as Alabama’s Piedmont High School, are also jumping on board with eSports curricula. The classes provide an off-field opportunity for students to get involved in sports, even if they are not interested or unable to physically play.
- It’s creating jobs
With higher education opportunities emerging, skilled professionals are in demand. That’s why more gamers are choosing to pursue eSports as a professional career.
India established itself as a pioneer in gaming opportunities with its Free Fire Gaming League competition, which took place in October 2019. As more successful large tournaments take place, lucrative careers in eSports will become more promising.
- More women are participating
Through the years, video gaming as a whole has gained a reputation as being a male-dominated hobby. However, that stereotype is being busted as more females are getting involved in eSports and gaming in general.
On a pursuit to quantify gaming data, Statista studied US computer and video gamers spanning the years 2006-2018. They found that women made up 46% of all gamers in 2018, as compared to 38% in 2006. Gaming promotions that are exclusive to females – such as the Girl Gamers eSports festival – are emerging, which offers further proof that more girls will continue to geek out on games as time moves on.
With high school gaming initiatives becoming more common, more girls will have the chance to explore the activity at a young age. Therefore, expect to see more lifelong female gamers.
- Arenas are springing up
Gone are the days of videogames being a mere virtual hobby. People are being encouraged to leave the house in the name of eSports with the construction of arenas.
The Jacksonville Business Journal reports that the 22,500 square-foot Ace Arena is slated to open in late 2019 and will feature more than 120 gaming systems, four private rooms, 20 digital displays to cycle content, a stage with a video projection wall for live entertainment and a large open lounge. Such stadiums can also be found in states such as Ohio, Texas, California and Hawaii – with more to come.
- People are investing more than just time
Today, there are more opportunities than ever before to engage on betting sites as more and more states amend legislation surrounding the issue. In addition to eSports, participants can place bets on real-life baseball, basketball and football on sites like Oddschecker.
Gambling Sites Online lists the ten US states with the most restrictive gambling laws, which are as follows: Utah, Hawaii, Indiana, Tennessee, Alaska, New Hampshire, Georgia, Texas, Florida and Wisconsin. However, that still leaves 40 US states that are more lax when it comes to placing bets on sports and eSports.
What does the future hold?
While many are skeptical about the legitimacy of eSports, the above trends show that more people are taking it seriously. As they become more accepted, the permanence of eSports becomes more likely.
Consequently, traditional sports may feel the impact of eSports as they compete for advertising dollars and sponsorships. Still, at the rate the industry is growing nothing can stop the momentum.
The global gaming business is worth billions of dollars – something public schools, colleges, cities and nations are figuring out and capitalizing on. As the phenomenon continues, eSports could provide economic benefits too large for official bodies to ignore.