Although traditional sports have been a popular form of entertainment for thousands of years, Esports is a recent phenomenon showcasing unprecedented growth! So why is Esports so popular?
The popularity of Esports is best attributed to the natural evolution and development of casual gaming into a professional spectacle. The evolution of video games into a competitive scene is due to the advancements in video game design, development, and internet infrastructure.
The following reasons are some of the reasons for Esports’ popularity:
1. Esports Are Accessible
Unlike traditional sports that require physical ability and capability, Esports use controllers and computer peripherals that players use to compete against each other.
Therefore, they are designed to be as accessible as possible. While gaming relies on quick reflexes and hand-eye coordination, developers try to reduce the delay of input commands through intuitive controls.
Furthermore, in-game settings and custom controls can make Esports an accessible space for people who are physically handicapped in a way that most traditional sports cannot.
Esports is also accessible for people with limited financial needs, as some of the biggest games in the world are free-to-play and don’t require a particularly advanced computer to play (such as League of Legends.)
An illustration of this drive for “financial accessibility” is the popularity of free-to-play mobile games.
Finally, Esports, as a mostly online space/community, has been recognized as a safe space for many neurodivergent people.
2. Esports Games Are Becoming More Advanced
While the birth of Esports can be traced back to the early days of Pong and similar competitive titles in arcades, the evolution of game development and design means that modern Esports games are becoming increasingly advanced.
These advancements include improved graphics, level designs, and sound design, but they also include games that require more advanced strategies and team tactics to remain competitive at the highest level.
Hence fans of Esports talk about a shifting “meta,” which is the underlying strategies that evolve/change over time to optimize gameplay as determined by changes introduced by the developers/Esports community.
Finally, because Esports usually involves online play, the global improvements to internet structures and connectivity mean that games can be played with stable frame rates and ping.
3. Esports Is A Social Experience
While it is up for debate, some would argue that Esports is more social than traditional sports.
Although I believe one’s social interactions are more dependent on the individual rather than the activity performed, some Esports involve teams of players competing against other teams.
These team Esports require excellent and consistent communication to develop and implement strategies, with this focus on communication being a vital component during games, practice, and strategy sessions.
Another form of social interaction via Esports is the role of online communities, fan forums, guilds, etc. Whereby fans of Esports can interact with one another over a common hobby/interest, including platforms for fans to directly engage with professional players!
Finally, the growing popularity of Esports means that it is common to see large stadiums filled with fans cheering on their favorite teams, thus filling the same niche of fan loyalty and camaraderie as traditional sports.
4. Esports Has More Variety Than Other Hobbies
While traditional sports come in many different forms, including different variants of a sport, they are still grounded in reality and involve physical activity to perform the necessary tasks.
In comparison, Esports is subject to unlimited design/development choices to make almost anything come to life. Therefore, while some Esports are grounded in reality and are designed to emulate real-world sports, many games are set in fantastical settings.
Furthermore, Esports come in many different genres, meaning that players/fans can enjoy a competitive scene in a genre of their choice.
5. Esports Is Inclusive
Because of its global popularity, Esports has fans and players from many different countries and cultures. The popularity of Esports means that professional leagues, publishers, and developers are actively trying to make games and community rules that promote tolerance and acceptance of others.
Consequently, Esports is a fantastic platform for fans and players to interact with people across the globe and to improve their knowledge and understanding of other’s cultures, beliefs, languages, etc.
6. People Of Most Ages Can Enjoy Esports
Unlike traditional sports that may be difficult for younger/older people to play due to the physical demands of playing a sport, Esports can be enjoyed by people of most ages.
However, the enjoyment of Esports also extends to watching Esports, engaging with the community, etc. Therefore, different games are designed and promoted to appeal to people of different ages, meaning that Esports has content for both young and old players.
7. Esports Is Constantly Changing And Adding New Games
Although triple-A developers and publishers usually dominate Esports, smaller titles and game communities can arise organically and make any game an Esport!
Therefore, unlike traditional sports, which seldom change or add new games, the ability of players and fans to develop their leagues, rule sets, and forums on nearly any game means that Esports showcases the unmatched capacity to grow and evolve.
Finally, Esports games are often updated via patches and bug fixes by the developers. Therefore, while traditional sports often change/evolve slowly, Esports is designed to change regularly.
8. Esports Is A Viable Career Path
Esports presents multiple career opportunities for people to pursue. Although the most lucrative positions in Esports are reserved for top players, there are various jobs one can perform in Esports, depending on their skills and interests.
Some examples of Esports careers/professions include:
- Game developer,
- Game publishers,
- Game journalist,
- Esports marketing,
- Esports forum management/hosting,
- Esports streaming.
9. Esports Prizes Are Enormous!
Although traditional sports are known for having large prize pools, Esports quickly grew in popularity and credibility, resulting in prize pools that trumped the prize pools of established events such as Wimbledon in certain years.
10. Esports Teams Promote And Encourage Fan Loyalty
Like traditional sports, Esports develops fan loyalty through brand association, player personalities, social events, etc.
However, while fan loyalty was a niche field in Esports, the investment in Esports by top brands and companies such as Red Bull and ESPN means that Esports is developing a level of professionalism and credibility akin to traditional sports.
Consequently, Esports is seeing the construction and development of dedicated Esports arenas and global coverage on traditional sports/news platforms!
11. Professional Esports Players Are Being Taken Seriously
Although it took some time for Esports athletes to be recognized and appreciated for their skills/accomplishments, modern sentiments are rapidly shifting, as there is a recognition of the level of dedication, raw talent, and strategic prowess needed to compete at the highest level.
This recognition led to the development of scholarships and funding for top Esports athletes across colleges, universities, and professional gaming organizations.
12. Esports Has A Hall Of Fame
Further to reason eleven was the development of the Esports Hall Of Fame in 2016. Although the first inductees were introduced as pioneers of older titles such as Quake and Counter-Strike. The Esports Hall Of Fame also includes spaces for “Special Awards” and “Community Awards.”
Consequently, the Esports Hall Of Fame is a celebration of player talent and community engagement/activism.
13. Studies Are Uncovering The Benefits Of Esports
Esports have been shown to have real-world benefits, including but not limited to:
- Communication skills,
- Hand-eye coordination,
- Strategic thinking,
- Spatial awareness,
Although there are ongoing studies, including some negatives related to addiction and over-playing video games, there is evidence to suggest numerous benefits to playing and enjoying Esports!
14. Esports Games Are A Great Form Of Entertainment
Most importantly, Esports is an enjoyable method of playing and consuming video game content. The development of professional leagues, streaming, broadcasting, and activity Esports communities further adds to fan excitement and engagement!
All in All
Esports has evolved from a niche hobby to a global phenomenon due to the concerted effort of fans, players, developers, publishers, and investors to make Esports as fun, accessible, and challenging as possible!