If there is a preconception of gamers being losers who have no friends and therefore no life, that would be in 2000. It might be true that in the past, staying at home and playing computer games rather than going out and socializing might seem like some kind of faux pas. The Japanese even have a name for it: otaku. But it is 2017, and professional gamers are nothing short of being celebrities, especially in Asia where mobile gaming is more popular than ever.
South Korea especially, where professional gaming have become so widely accepted and integrated into its culture, that it has been nicknamed the capital of esports. Starcraft II gamers earn an average of six figures per game and they take what they do very seriously. Just like how a sportsman might study their opponents, coaches make their players breakdown the other team’s tactics and have strict training regiments.
They attract many admirers, which is apparent from their training cubicles which is lined with personal effects and gifts from sponsors and girls. Boys make up more than 80% of all gamers, and are treated with the same attention as k-pop stars.
Esports have even gotten noticed by The International Olympic Committee and was quoted saying, ” The Summit agreed that ‘eSports’ are showing strong growth, especially within the youth demographic across different countries, and can provide a platform for engagement with the Olympic Movement” and will be part of the medals event at the 2022 Asian Games.
However, it is DotA 2 which has the most lucrative industry. An annual tournament, simply known as The International, had a record breaking pool prize money of $24.8million for the previous round that took place in June till August. Invited gamers from Europe, Southeast Asia, China and all over America, flew to Seattle for the main event.
Instead of stadiums, esports employ the use of gaming hubs that have an auditorium and many do flock to watch these tournaments. One such venue has recently emerged in Malaysia where they are still battling the negative connotations attached to gaming. Their neighbour, Philippines, do not have such a problem and only just launched a League of Legends Varsity League in an effort to up the standard of collegiate esports.
Many of those who make esports their vocation are still in school and are bound by scholarly commitments. However, esports have gained recognition. A school in Connecticut have accepted its authenticity of being an extracurricular activity. It is the very first state in America which has joined the “Electronic Gaming Federation as a High School Esports League”.
With such a growing recognition all over the world, you will be hard pressed to find someone being laughed at for being good at a computer game. Instead of being seen as an antisocial activity, it has become accepted as a sporting event. And sports is the one thing that garners respect everywhere, the only activity capable of driving people together. A powerful force in itself, let’s hope esports have an equally long and lasting run.