The Pre-eSport Era:
The concept of competition is not innovative in the video-game world. From the birth of 8-bit entertainment to today’s market titles, each generation of video games has been accompanied by tournaments, score championships, in short, anything that could look like a clash to find out who was the best.
Of course, in every era its way, and the competitions were in no way like the one we have today. The first recognized tournament was the Space Invaders Tournament, in which in 1980 more than 10,000 participants tried to get the highest possible score in the space shoot game.
Overview on Games
There have always been forms of competition related to video games. Whether it’s the highest score in arcade games, who comes first in racing games, or who stays up in fighting games, there are plenty of opportunities to compete as friends, whether on arcades, consoles, or PC.
However, some games are more competitive than others: Counter-Strike, Quake, League of Legends, StarCraft 2, etc. These titles are called eSports games (for Electronic Sports, i.e. eSports in French). In addition to the amateurs who fragged their friends in a friendly way, the programmers, paid to play, train tirelessly to become the best. The skill gap (or difference in level of play) between the novice and the accomplished makes all the difference: these games do not leave too much to the chance that would allow a beginner to beat an experienced player.
And just like “traditional” sports, a host of professional professions have developed around eSports. Audiovisual trades, coaches, sponsors, events: a whole business model is developing. The most apparent aspect is undoubtedly the appearance of professionals commenting on the live games. They analyze the movements of each player, the strategies chosen, and above all they chronicle the story that fits before their eyes. Because each tournament is also accompanied by its epic tales: how the favorite got beaten by the almost amateur, how the best team managed to defeat the hordes of hyper specialized and hyper-trained Asian programmers.
As long as you appreciate the popular eSports titles, it’s harder than you think to understand what defines a video-game title as fit for competitive sport. To grasp the subtle nuance that defines that League of Legends is indeed an eSports game, while Tetris is definitely not one. To allow our readers to discover how eSports and video games are linked, Millennium has put together a special dossier on the issue.
These eSports-labeled products are on display in hundreds of tournaments around the world. Championships, leagues, cups, show matches and other invitational welcome enthusiastic crowds who cheer on their favorites from the pro teams. This relationship sheds light on the sports side of eSports, because just like any football fan would go to the stadium to see his favorite team play, any eSports fan would go and watch his idol fight to become the best. Esports games have a number of intrinsic features that make them highly differentiated from other titles in the market.