Sometime on August 2015, Jimmy Kimmel said on his show “…watching another person play video games is like going to a restaurant and have someone eat your food for you…” Well, nowadays many people watch other people play video games in what we call spectator eSports.
eSports is simply a competitive video gaming at a professional level. It is form of organized, multiplayer video game competitions. Games range from real-time strategy, fighting, first-person shooter (FPS), and multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game genres. Today, we see them happen on big arenas, broadcast on live television, and competitors win money.
Competitive video gaming started on October 1972 at Stanford University. Students played Spacewar and winners won a year subscription of the Rolling Stones. It took another 8 years for video gaming to become mainstream as Atari held The Space Invaders Championship in 1980. It was the earliest large scale video game competition, attracting more than 10,000 participants across the United States. From 1982 to 1984, a US TV game show Starcade produced 133 episodes showing contestants beat each other in an arcade game.
In 1985, Billy Mitchell held a world record on Guinness World Book of Records for high scores on six (6) arcade games including PacMan and Donkey Kong.
Between 1988 to 1993, when PC inter-connectivity came in place, online video gaming started. Netrek was an Internet game for up to 16 players, written almost entirely in cross-platform open source software. Netrek was the first Internet game to use meta-servers to locate open game servers. It was recorded as “the first online sports game.”
With the advent of different gaming consoles and exciting games, video gaming competition shifted to something spectacular. From organized video gaming teams to broadcast live streaming on cable TV and online streaming sites, competitive video gaming became what we call now spectator eSports.
However, the social recognition of eSports as a sport is still up for debate. As some say that this is just a form of competitive gaming, others say it is a form of mind sports. Other countries and organizations have tried to regulate and standardize eSports. The media and the business sectors recognize this as a good source of income, too.
Sports or not, video gaming has changed our lives, our society, our perception of competition, and probably on how we watch TV.