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Esports vs. Gaming: 16 Things To Consider (Differences, Similarities,…)

Last Updated on January 25, 2024 by Gamesver Team and JC Franco

Gaming, or the activity of playing video games, has been with us since the 1970s. Recently the emergence of Esports has thrown new light on the topic, and the two phrases are more and more often used interchangeably. However, the difference is quite vast. But what is the difference, and what should you consider when thinking about Esports vs. gaming?

Esports vs. gaming is like the difference between playing tennis with a friend and participating in a Grand Slam tennis tournament. Gaming is mainly for relaxation, while Esports is professional gaming participation involving sponsorships and a possible career. So how should you choose between them?

Gaming Is Not The Same As Esports

Gaming and Esports have only one thing in common when you think about it: video games. Kicking a ball around with your friends does not make you a football player. Similarly, playing video games does not mean that you participate in Esports. Here are the primary differences between the two.

1. Gaming Is Mostly For Relaxation

Video games have turned into a popular pastime for people of all ages, across all genders and cultures. The types of games we play will differ, but most of us play video games in shape or form, even if it’s just Solitaire or Candy Crush during a coffee break. Some people take gaming more seriously than others, spending lots of money, but it’s still just a hobby or a way to relax.

2. Esports Involves Professional Participation

Esports players participate in formally-arranged tournaments and leagues with their teams. You will find trained coaches, team managers, sponsorships, prize money, media representation, and celebrities among the ranks of Esports participants. It’s an entirely different form of gaming that requires professional players that train hard to master their chosen game and make a career of it.

3. Esport Is Recognized As A Valid Sport

Despite what many people might think about it, Esport is recognized as a valid sport. The lack of physical intensity does not mean that it doesn’t require a high skill level. Its popularity is increasing tremendously, with matches broadcast internationally complete with live commentary (also known as shoutcasting).

4. Competitive Gaming Is Not The Same As Esport

Many games are competitive. Some even involve you playing with or against other players in an online match, making it even more competitive. That does not mean that you are participating in Esports. If there is no formal league or tournament involved, you are playing video games and not participating in Esports. This is a simple principle, but it’s often overlooked or misunderstood.

5. Gaming And Esports Involve Different Habits

Gamers may be very loyal and anxious about logging into their games and playing with friends. They are often in the habit of getting home from work or school, switching on their gaming devices, and playing for a few hours (or even through the night). Esports is different. It is a career choice, which means that these players have to practice for many hours each day to stay on top of their game.

6. Gaming Isn’t Always Against Other Players

Many gamers play against artificial intelligence players (known as “bots”) rather than against other people. This is not always the case, but it is common. On the other hand, Esports players mainly compete against other players and teams.

7. Esport Is A Sub-Genre Of Gaming 

Gaming came first. The first video game was created in 1958, and it was a simple tennis game. Even though it was competitive, it was never recognized as a professional sport. More than five decades later, formal competitions started being held to determine who was the best player in the world in a particular game, and that’s when Esports was born. The two are tied, but they are not the same.

8. Esports And Gaming Have Different Hardware Requirements

All gamers like to have the latest and greatest hardware and fast internet connections, but that’s a “really want it” type of scenario for gamers. In contrast, it’s an absolutely essential part of Esports.

Only the best new technology is good enough for Esports since even the slightest lag or drops in FPS (frames per second) could mean the difference between winning and losing.

What You Need To Participate In Esports

If you want to be a casual gamer, that’s great; you can play on your own terms and even participate in informal competitions. It’s an excellent, relaxing hobby that can help you relieve stress and recharge before going back to school or work the next day. But what if you want to take it further and participate in Esports?

9. Join An Esports Club

There are many formal Esports clubs in most countries internationally. Joining one of these clubs may not be easy, and you will have to prove your skills in a formal Esports game, but joining is essential if you wish to start a career in Esports. Most clubs already begin on school level, and many schools have their own Esports clubs and leagues that keep formal logs to start off your career.

10. Computer Sponsorships For Esports

This is often arranged by the clubs you join, but it’s crucial for Esports clubs that you have the best possible hardware, and this is where sponsorships come in. Some clubs partner up with corporate sponsors like Acer Esports to equip their players with the best hardware in exchange for brand representation in all tournaments that they participate in.

11. Other Brand Sponsorships For Esports

As with any sport, many non-computer companies will want to sponsor you once you’ve reached some level of celebrity status and you’re frequently in the public eye. A good social media following will guarantee that you can start earning money from these companies in exchange for wearing their clothing or carrying their brand somehow since this is a worthwhile marketing expense for them.

12. Be Professional In Esports, As With Any Sport

The primary difference between gaming and Esports is that Esports are professional. Playing games is a career choice for those who participate formally in Esports, and they have to treat it as such. Keep yourself to a strict practice schedule and always carry yourself in a professional manner, even off the “sportsfield.” This is the difference between a professional and an amateur. Act like a pro.

13. Take Your Esports Career Seriously

Everyone should take their career seriously, and Esports is no exception. Treat your gaming as the career that you want it to be. Aim to excel at it. Study and learn new skills. Find a coach and absorb what they tell you, then aim to be even better than that. No professional sportsperson has ever achieved greatness by being passive about their career in their chosen sport.

14. Sport Is Often Not A Life-Long Career, And Neither Is Esport

Participants in physical sports realize that there is an age limit to their career, and the wise ones will plan for the future accordingly. Esports is not so physically intensive, so it won’t necessarily have the same age limit, but only time will tell since Esport is a comparatively young sport. It’s best to prepare for life after Esport, either by investing or getting a qualification for a different career.

15. There Are Other Career Opportunities Within Esports

Suppose you are passionate enough about gaming to make it a career, but you lack the necessary skills or expertise to participate. In that case, you can always find another job in the Esport industry. There are various options like coaches, managers, shoutcasters, video editors, producers, audio specialists, technicians, and developers, among others. There are many opportunities in such a fast-growing industry.

16. Esports Still Need You To Be A Team Player

This cannot be emphasized enough. Many gamers tend to be loners, playing only for their own entertainment. When you enter the realm of formal Esports, this has to change. You have to be accessible and engaging, open to working with others, learning from them, and letting them shine. Esport is social, and you must treat it as such before you can be successful.

In Closing

Gaming and Esports are not binary. They are not polar opposites. Rather, Esport is a natural next level of evolution for gaming that’s emerging more and more into the spotlight. That does not mean that only Esport players are “true gamers.” Play your games the way that you prefer. Any game should always be first and foremost about fun and enjoyment.

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who enjoy sharing their knowledge about their favorite games with others!

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco serves as a New York-based editor for Gamesver. His interest for board games centers around chess, a pursuit he began in elementary school at the age of 9. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Mercyhurst University, JC brings a blend of business acumen and creative insight to his role. Beyond his editorial endeavors, he is a certified USPTA professional, imparting his knowledge in tennis to enthusiasts across the New York City Metropolitan area.