The time of nerds being considered un-sporty has passed. However, it’s not on the court or the field where they’re crushing the competition. Instead, the geeks’ playing field is the virtual world of video games. Competitive gaming, or eSports, brings together the top video game players from around the world as they vie for fortune and fame, competing at tournaments with prize pools rising into the millions.
eSports competitions have emerged in 2D fighting games like Super Smash Bros. and in real-time strategy games like League of Legends. eSports can even include some first person shooters like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. These games are chosen for their competitive play, with player rankings (ladders) and leagues often built-in.
However, many have voiced the critique (often those with a stake in traditional sports media) that these games are not a “real sport.” The main argument for this viewpoint is the lack of physical strength required for eSports tournaments. No one can deny, however, the amount of finesse, strategy, and razor-sharp hand-to-eye coordination required by top gamers in certain leagues. As in traditional sports, top eSports players have to commit to years of practice.
As for spectators, eSports can rival those of many traditional sports. For example, the League of Legends Season 3 World Championship in Los Angeles attracted a live crowd of over 13,000 fans with an online audience of over 32 million.
Photo credit: Sam Churchill on Flickr