Growing up as gamers, most of us have probably heard our parents say something along the lines of, “You’ll never succeed in life if you’re playing those video games all day.” Well what if I told you that you can be very successful and have a very lucrative career playing video games all day in this day and age? Now that we are adults living in a society that is very dependent on technology, the newest trends or the latest fads catch on quickly because we are all connected via the World Wide Web. One new trend that is emerging within the gaming community most recently is the world of professional competitive video gaming.
Most gamers have heard of the MLG which stands for Major League Gaming who hosts tournaments and broadcast them, usually on a streaming website like Youtube or Twitch. Because the fast growing fan base of major league gaming, some tournaments for specific games are televised nationally on cable television and on major networks nonetheless. Because of all this exposure, tech company giants like Intel or Asus and even the food industry companies like Monster Energy Drink wants their share of advertising space during these televised events so they pour money to sponsor these tournaments. Some of these companies even sponsor individual gamers if they are good enough, therefore making money from endorsement deals and not just the winnings from professional tournaments. Just like how Lebron James is sponsored and paid by Nike on top of his salary from his NBA contract.
Back in the early 1990’s, when arcades were the go to hangout spot and coin operated games were king, people would wager small amounts of money against each other on Street Fighter to see who was truly the best. Back then you could only make so much as a competitive gamer, but according to Jeffery L. Wilson in his article “How I Learned to Stop Hating & Love E-Sports”, sponsor-backed tournaments boast cash pots in the millions. He states that, “Newzon, a research firm, estimates that the multi-million-dollar business known as eSports will generate $1.1 billion by 2019.” That research just goes to show how much eSports is growing and how making it into a career can be a very profitable business choice.
Before gaming used to be just a couple of friends getting together at someone’s basement huddled around a single television, but it has now grown to hundreds of thousands of people getting together and big name venues like Madison Square Garden in New York or the MGM Casino’s Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas having sell out crowds for these gaming tournaments. Jeffery L. Wilson also states in his article that, “In 2015, the Electronic Sports League (ESL), the largest and oldest eSports organization, drew 27 million unique viewers to its ESL One Cologne Counter Strike: Global Offensive tournament alone.” That means that even if people aren’t able to attend these venues, there are still millions of viewers watching from the comfort of their own homes or even from somewhere that has an open WiFi connection.
In traditional collegiate sports like basketball or football, it is no secret that the top high school prospects in the nation will be granted full ride scholarships to colleges that want to showcase their abilities in their particular craft. According to the Beijing Review last year in 2016, “The website of the Department of Vocational and Adult Education under the Ministry of Education in China declared on September 2 2016 that eSports gaming and management will be one of the new academic majors available in 2017 for vocational study.” Which means that careers in the competitive gaming field are booming and people in China are seeing it as a viable career to build their education around. Earlier this year in America, The University of Utah announced that they will be sponsoring a varsity eSports program that will be competing this Fall with more participation in future eSport gaming leagues. Eben Novy-Williams of Bloomberg states that, “All students who play on the varsity team will receive partial scholarships.” Which not a bad trade off for playing a few video games.
One problem that persists within the eSports gaming community, just like in all other professional sports, is gambling. Betting money on teams or individuals participating in a sport or match is a common staple within the competitive sporting world, and the same truth holds evident for the eSports community. Because video games are marketed towards the younger generations, people have found ways to exploit that using loopholes to craft unlicensed gambling websites that allow children under the age of eighteen to bet on eSport matches using virtual currency that is purchased with real life money. According to The Telegraph UK, “The issue of young people – predominantly the audience interested in eSports – being lured into gambling on computer game tournaments is now a key focus for the United Kingdom’s Gambling Commission and will heavily feature on the agenda at charity GambleAware’s conference at the end of the year.”
In the near future I would not be surprised to see professional eSports gaming to go mainstream worldwide. Hundreds of millions of people play video games every day and companies that are progressive and have a yearning to reach this vast number of gaming and competitive eSport league enthusiasts will pour money into advertisements and sponsorship to these said tournaments. The rise in popularity is only growing for eSports and the more people start showing interest, the more jobs it will create for people whether they becoming part of the media or behind the scenes of these tournaments or an all out professional eSport athlete making millions in take home cash prizes or endorsement deals. As eSport leagues are still new and fresh in mainstream culture, problems like illegal underage gambling occur using loopholes like using virtual currency to bet on video game matches, but because more people are aware of professional eSports, I am sure the people in charge of betting laws will crack down on these malicious websites hosting underage gambling, therefore making it regulated just like they do for other sports.
Works Cited Page
- WILSON, JEFFREY L. “HOW I LEARNED to STOP HATING & LOVE ESPORTS: As Dubious as It May Seem, Getting Paid to Play Video Games Is Now a Viable Career Option for Elite Players. Here’s How and Why Esports Is a Booming Business.” PC Magazine, June 2017, pp. 100-113. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=123168589&site=ehost-live.
- Hamari, Juho and Max Sjöblom. “What Is Esports and Why Do People Watch It?.” Internet Research, vol. 27, no. 2, Mar. 2017, pp. 211-232. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1108/IntR-04-2016-0085.
- “Should Esports Be Pursued in Academia?.” Beijing Review, vol. 59, no. 43, 27 Oct. 2016, pp. 46-47. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=119195011&site=ehost-live.
- Lamb, Hilary. “The Rise of Esports in Higher Education.” Times Higher Education, 23 Feb. 2017, p. 15. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=121554222&site=ehost-live.
- Schneider, Sue. “Esport Betting: The Intersection of Gaming and Gambling.” Gaming Law Review & Economics, vol. 19, no. 6, Aug. 2015, pp. 419-420. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1089/glre.2015.1963.